Whitehorse Daily Star

Transport truck accident closes Alaska Highway

The Alaska Highway remained closed as of press time

By Chuck Tobin on August 8, 2017

The Alaska Highway remained closed as of press time this afternoon following a single-vehicle accident of a fuel transport truck at approximately 8:30 p.m. Monday.

The Yukon government was uncertain as of 1 p.m. today when the highway might re-open to traffic.

The B-train was transporting gasoline and one of the two tanks it was hauling ruptured when the truck left the highway between the Rancheria and Swift Rivers.

Communication officer Traolach Ó Murchú of Environment Yukon said this morning two assessment officers are at the site.

No fuel has entered any water courses, he said, adding that Pacesetter Petroleum Ltd. has sent a truck to pump off fuel from the truck involved in the accident.

Ó Murchú said it’s not known how much fuel has spilled.

RCMP spokeswoman Coralee Reid said this morning the truck is not blocking the road but gasoline has spilled onto the highway.

She said the driver was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation, she said.

Denis Bouchard, of the Rancheria Motel and Café, said this morning it’s the volatile nature of the gasoline that is the primary concern.

If it was diesel, the situation would be much different. Traffic would probably be going through, but since it’s gasoline, he said, the circumstances are much more serious because of the additional volatility involved.

Bouchard said at approximately 11 a.m. the Pacesetter truck had already gone by Rancheria on its way to the scene, located up the highway not far from the rest area at the Lower Rancheria River.

He heard they were expected to have the highway open later this afternoon.

As for business, it’s been slower than normal because highway traffic is being stopped at Teslin and Swift River to the north, and at Watson Lake and Junction 37 to the south, Bouchard explained.

In Watson Lake, on the other hand, businesses have been busier than normal, town CAO Cam Lockwood told the Star.

He said it’s unfortunate for highway travellers having to face the inconvenience.

But for TAGS, the grocery store and other businesses, it’s been busy, he said.

“The library is full of people using the Internet,” he said. “We have people using the parks.

“There was a woman roller blading in the arena.”

Lockwood said the woman told him she had time to kill there so she was going around and around the rink.

The Sign Post Forest was busier than usual, as was the Northern Lights Centre, he said.

“People were taking advantage of their time to check out Watson Lake.”

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