PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Environmental advocates have a tough time as it is keeping pollution out of Narragansett Bay, and adding to that challenge this week was a tanker truck crash that caused thousands of gallons of fuel to spill in the area of Allens Avenue in Providence.
The roadway remained closed Thursday as crews worked to repair a section that was significantly damaged by the spill. Drivers are advised to avoid the area.
Gasoline could be smelled from miles away after the tanker truck rolled over Wednesday night on the Allens Avenue on-ramp to I-95 North. Officials said approximately half of the 11,000 gallons of fuel it was carrying poured out onto the roadway and crews spent hours working to contain and clean up the spill.
A storm drain near the scene of the crash is one of 18,000 in the city that deposits water and street grime into the bay. The trace amounts of gasoline and oil left behind by vehicles on the roadways quickly add up, according to Topher Hamblett of Save the Bay.
“When the rain comes, that washes all of that pollution right into Narraganset Bay through storm drains, so it’s an ongoing problem day to day,” Hamblett explained.
In the wake of Wednesday’s fuel spill, Save the Bay and the R.I. Department of Environmental Management are working to monitor the bay for potential impacts.
“Dead fish. Birds that seem in distress. Anything like that,” Eric Pfirrmann of the DEM said. “Luckily, we’re not seeing anything, which is a good sign.”
Took a boat ride with @SaveTheBayRI to check out the water conditions after last night’s gasoline spill. @wbuteau with the story tonight 6pm on @wpri12 #Target12 pic.twitter.com/aEk6HEVE32— Johnny Villella (@JohnnyVillella) October 4, 2018
The agencies are worried not only about the gasoline, but also the foam that was used to clean up the roadway, ramp and nearby vehicles.
They’re inspecting the water for any sheen of gasoline, which they said more than likely evaporated quickly, in part due to the mild weather and relatively warm water.
A spokesperson for the DEM said the agency is working to figure out a permanent solution to better control the daily runoff into the bay.