Ink Tanker goes "Wheels-Up"

Hydro-Klean responds to nearly a hundred calls a year that involve semi tractor-trailers in accidents with spilled diesel fuel and/or hazardous cargo  released into the environment. However, one call surpassed all others. The cargo in this situation was 5,000 gallons of bright red, printing ink.

After discussions with the responsible party, HK quickly dispatched a senior environmental service technician to evaluate the situation. As additional information trickled in, we identified the ink and found it contained fifty-one percent toluene, with a flash point of about 45oF. The flash point is the lowest temperature at which a liquid gives off enough vapor to ignite. The air temperature that day was 65oF, more than warm enough to make the day exciting.

An Upside Down Semi
As bad as the situation appeared at first glance—and a semi-tanker upside down always looks bad—fortunately, no product had leaked from the MC307 cargo tank. The insulating jacket surrounding the tank was extensively damaged, but the aluminum tank remained intact. However, the top-mounted manway was now facing the ground, leaving only a hydraulic-operated, bottom-outlet valve facing skyward.

As events unfolded, we determined the best solution would be to transfer the contents into another semi trailer. However, no replacement trailer was available until evening. After discussions with the responsible party, as well as the Iowa Department of Transportation, Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Iowa State Patrol, it was agreed that working along the interstate shoulder at night was neither safe nor wise. Hydro-Klean would return in the morning with all necessary equipment and personnel to complete the transfer to the replacement tanker.

Expert HK Team
The team assembled to handle the situation consisted of four of our most experienced and highly trained individuals. Hydro-Klean personnel receive the best training available, including several trips to the Emergency Response Training Center (ERTC) in Pueblo, CO. Here, they learn how to manage this exact type of crisis from experts in resolving haz-mat releases from rail, highway and intermodal incidents.

Quick, Safe Materials Transfer
With backup support provided by local fire and EMS departments, Hydro-Klean began at 9:00 AM and completed the materials transfer about three hours later, without losing an ounce of product. By accessing the product with existing fittings and connections, Hydro-Klean avoided the dangerous task of drilling into a tanker of highly flammable product and vapors. With the transfer complete, we returned the ink to the manufacturer for reprocessing.

When we looked back at this incident, everyone realized how serious it could have been if the tanker had failed and the ink had been released to the environment. Remediation of the resulting damage easily would have reached $50,000. Fortunately, everything that could have gone wrong went right. Hydro-Klean came through with knowledgeable, skilled personnel and solved yet another customer's crisis.

Back to Project Library