Digging Deeper: Edgefield not considering hazmat team despite fuel spill from tanker wreck on Woodlawn Road

EDGEFIELD COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) – It’s been a few weeks since a tanker overturned and spilled fuel onto a state highway in Edgefield County.

Woodlawn Road stayed closed for several weeks, while S.R.S. hazmat crews cleaned up the area.

A local fire department, near the wreck, responded and was able to contain the spill while they waited for the hazmat team.

However, the County Administrator says it’s rare for the volunteer firefighters to have the necessary training to handle these types of calls, but at this time, that’s the best Edgefield’s got.

“We do not have a hazardous materials team,” said County Administrator Tommy Paradise.

Paradise says fuel spills are rare in Edgefield County, but they do happen.

In June, the driver of this tanker, carrying fuel, ran off the Woodlawn Road.

The overturned truck, spilled an unknown amount of fuel into the roadway, causing Edgefield County to request help from the S.R.S. hazmat team and other counties.

Despite having fuel farms, Paradise says the county can’t afford to have its own hazardous material response team.

“The equipment just to get started is probably about $150,000 dollars,” said Paradise.

First on the scene were volunteer firefighters, which Paradise says is another obstacle the county would have to overcome if they created a team.

Since many of the volunteers don’t have the time to go through training.

“Plus you look at the additional risk factor, for the individual going in. These are volunteers,” Paradise told WJBF NewsChannel 6. “They fight fire in the middle of the night and go to work at 8 o’clock in the morning. So are they willing to assume that additional risk?”

So the county depends on its emergency response agreements, with surrounding counties, when accidents involving hazardous materials occur.

“Right now the mutual aid process, I think, serves the citizens well and provides what we need,” said Paradise. “So I don’t see trying to fund a program at this point. Now that’s not to say we are not going to continue looking at it.”

The driver of the truck, Robert Cooke, was charged with driving too fast for conditions.

Paradise says the county has not been charged for the spill cleanup, but if they are the trucking company will have to pay the bill.

Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story. 

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