LE SUEUR — About 100 gallons of gasoline were spilled Wednesday morning when a semi tanker turning into the Le Sueur rest area tipped over.
The tanker, driven by 28-year-old Joseph D. Wenner of Courtland, was southbound on Highway 169 when Wenner attempted to make a left turn into the rest area, a State Patrol report said. Wenner lost control and the tanker rolled over into a ditch at about 7 a.m.
One lane of traffic was closed on the highway while firefighters, an emergency crew from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and law enforcement officers dealt with the crash. Wenner was treated at the Le Sueur hospital and released.
The towing company that was called to assist, Affordable Towing of Mankato, knew to call the MPCA right away, said Pam McCurdy, an MPCA spokeswoman.
“We work a lot with different towing companies,” McCurdy said. “So right away, when the company was called to get help for the vehicle, they knew to call us and report the rollover.”
West Central Environmental Consultants was sent to the scene to deal with the leaking fuel, McCurdy said. An MPCA emergency crew from St. Paul also was sent out to make sure the cleanup was done correctly and to do environmental testing. Le Sueur firefighters sprayed foam on the tanker as a precaution.
“We’re always concerned when we’re near water,” she said. “There’s also a concern about fire. It looked worse than it probably was.”
River Region Cooperative in Essig, which owned the tanker and was transporting the fuel, will pay for the cleanup costs, McCurdy said. The fuel was being shipped to the cooperative’s convenience store in Sleepy Eye.
The rest area was closed but has since been re-opened.
Without the quick response, the spill could have been more serious, McCurdy said. Semi tankers carry thousands of gallons of fuel, so 100 gallons is a small amount compared what could have been spilled.
Bruce Macrafic, co-owner of Affordable Towing, said drivers there are trained to deal with semi rollovers quickly. They carry a three-ring binder in the tow truck that lists numbers to call for various problems.
If grain is spilled, they know to call for a grain vacuum. If livestock are involved and loose, there’s a number they call to get a cattle, swine or fowl truck to the scene.
“We’ve had training with the MPCA and we know what to do with a truck wreck like that,” Macrafic said. “Typically our drivers do all that right from the scene.”