Crews work to clean up 9,000 gallons of fuel at Port Everglades

MIAMI (WSVN) - Hazmat crews are working to clean up over 9,000 gallons of spilled fuel at Port Everglades, Thursday night.

According to the Broward Sheriff’s Office, at around 11:40 p.m., Thursday, a tanker truck rolled over, causing 6,000 gallons of gasoline and 3,000 gallons of diesel to spill out of the truck, some even seeping into the Intracoastal.

The driver of the truck, Jean Nicolas, suffered minor injuries and was transported to Broward General Medical. He was later dismissed and sent home. No one else was injured, according to officials.

7News spoke to Nicolas at his residence, Friday. He said he was going the speed limit and does not know what caused the tanker truck to flip. “I just blacked out for a few seconds,” he explained. “And then I woke up fast because I wanted to get out of the truck since there was some fuel inside of the truck and I didn’t want the trailer to explode with me inside of it. But my doorway was locked, so what I did was I opened the window from behind and I got out.”

The tanker truck was upside down until around noon, Friday, when the truck was finally lifted to the upright position. Now, the plan is to go through and empty all the gasoline out of the tanker and make sure there is no remaining fuel.

By late Friday afternoon, crews had already recovered half of the fuel. They expect to recover 90 percent or more of the fuel that went into the drainage lines, dirt and the Intracoastal.

More than 50 firefighters were called to the scene from over 16 fire department units, Thursday night. Crews laid down foam in the affected areas and grounded the tanker to keep the fuel from spilling further. However, the fuel managed to reach the intracoastal waterway.

“The fire department has put down a full blanket of foam on all the affected areas, to minimize any impact of the vapor escaping the area,” said Cliff Berry, the CEO of Cliff Berry Inc., an environmental services company. “We hope to have all the product evacuated from the slip in just a few hours, and then our focus will turn to the storm drains, which we will remove all the product and then proceed to clean.”

The United States Coast Guard was also on scene attempting to absorb the fuel from the water. Their job is to clean up the water.

On Friday, they sent a couple of boats to makes sure no sea turtles or manatees were in the area where the fuel leaked. If they saw any marine animals, they pushed them away from the toxic waters.

At this point it is unknown how much fuel spilled into the water. “Gasoline and diesel fuel are lighter than water, so it floats on the water, so that’s a plus” said Berry. “The fact that its floating gives us the opportunity and time to put skimmers on, and effectively skim up and clean up all the floating product. When we’re done, in time, it will look like it never happened.”

Due to the spill, the Celebrity Equinox cruise ship was not able to come into the port. However, the ship was able to dock at terminal 25, which was accessed through the Interstate 595 entrance to the port.

“Passengers aboard the Celebrity Equinox are being brought to terminal 25,” said Port Everglades spokesperson Ellen Kennedy, “so if you’re picking up passengers, you should go straight in through I-595, directly to cruise terminal 25.”

The 17th Street and State Road 84 entrances to the port have been closed off, as crews work to clean up the spill.

However, crews hope to have the streets reopened in the next couple of hours.

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