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Cleanup continues after tanker crash
Spilled cooking oil didnt reach lake
Workers suction cooking oil into a vacuum tanker along the side of Hwy. 369 in northeastern Forsyth. The oil spilled from a tanker truck after it crashed Wednesday. - photo by Jim Dean

An environmental cleanup crew hopes to soon finish removing a cooking oil spill caused by a tanker truck wreck last week in northeastern Forsyth.

Workers were expected to continue vacuuming oil from Four Mile Creek and shoveling it from the roadside over the weekend so both lanes of Hwy. 369 can reopen as soon as possible, said Kevin Chambers, spokesman for the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.

“They don’t have a time frame yet,” Chambers said. “It’s real slow going. They’re hopeful they’ll have it finished by the first part of the week.”

A tanker carrying used cooking oil crashed Wednesday and overturned on Hwy. 369, also known as Browns Bridge Road, between Jot Em Down and Little Mill roads.

The truck was heading east on the highway at 8:49 a.m. when the driver reportedly came over a crest and noticed traffic stopped in front of him, according to the Georgia State Patrol.

“The driver steered his vehicle to the right to avoid a collision and left the roadway,” the state patrol report states. “As the vehicle left the roadway, it traveled down an embankment and overturned on its side.”

The driver, 56-year-old Arthur Lee Simonds of Jasper, was taken to North Fulton Hospital with what were described as minor injuries.

He was cited with failure to maintain lane.

The road has been reduced to one lane for days as contractors remove the oil.

Chamber said one lane will remain closed between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. until work is complete.

Though the spill was substantial, he said the oil was stopped before it reached nearby Lake Lanier.

“The [U.S. Army] Corps of Engineers said people might see a light sheen on the lake, but it’s not enough for them to be worried about it at all,” Chambers said. “There’s no impact on fish or other wildlife [in the lake or creek.]”

The cleanup crew began the creek remediation using absorbent pads, but brought in a vacuum truck Friday to “speed up the process,” he said.

Slowing down the work is the inability of the contractor to use heavy equipment to remove the spill form the roadside soil due to the danger of striking a waterline underneath, he said.

Workers have been using shovels instead, Chambers said, and the contractor will fill in the area with fresh soil when the removal is complete.