Environmental Cleanup of the Troy Tanker Fire

The Accident

A fuel tanker carrying approximately 14,000 gallons of fuel crashed into the median on I-75 in Troy, MI.

The resulting explosion and fuel spill contaminated the soil and water in ditches along both sides of the highway, as well as downstream through stormwater drains. Emergency responders reacted quickly to clear the area and stop the fire, which allowed us to safely work on mitigating the environmental impact of the spill.

Adjust the slider on the image below for a before/after of the main spill site.

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Containing the Spill

Our top priority when arriving on accident scenes is to contain the spill to prevent further contamination. We quickly realized the fuel had made it down the stormwater drain, flowing two miles downstream. We used Hard River Booms and Absorbent Booms to catch the spill before it spread further.

There are several types of booms available for spill response and cleanup. The Absorbent Booms utilized here are made of a patented material specifically designed for absorbing fuel while still allowing water to pass through.

We also controlled the flow of contaminated water in the highway ditches by creating Riprap Check Dams. These dams, in conjunction with Absorbent Booms, were placed strategically in ditches to prevent contaminated water from flowing further downhill.

The emergency response procedures implemented when we first arrived on scene allowed us to quickly contain the spill. Once the spill was contained, we were able to coordinate with ERG, Environmental Resource Group, to establish a cleanup plan based on the levels of Volatile Organic Carbons (VOC) in the area.


ERG conducted all environmental testing on site. VOC readings need to be under 100ppm to be within safe levels and meet EGLE regulations. ERG’s priority is to routinely test the soil and we work through the site to ensure all regulations are being met. ERG documents all of their findings and reports to EGLE, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

The highest VOC level before we started cleanup was around 3,500 ppm! 

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Preventing Further Contamination

With heavy rainfall forecasted the week following the accident, we took the necessary precautions to prevent rainwater runoff from moving contaminated soil from the spill site further downhill. We were able to achieve this by tarping the area before the heavy rainfall started.

Working alongside busy roadways adds an additional logistical hurdle to our projects. MDOT provided us with a 30 minute road closure window to safely move our equipment up the hill and tarp the area. We are happy to say our dedicated team completed the job within that time. Now that is what we call teamwork!

Cleaning the Spill

Water Cleanup

Cleanup procedures for this project were twofold, involving both contaminated water and contaminated soil. To treat the water, we used Absorbent Booms and skimmed the water’s surface with a Vacuum Truck to remove the fuel. After initial water cleanup was complete, we used giant steel plates to dewater the ditches.

From start to finish, we utilized over 3 MILES of Boom for this project!

Soil Cleanup

We excavated all contaminated soil by digging down until VOC readings were under the acceptable limit (most often until reading at 0), then transporting the contaminated soil to an environmental landfill. These specialized landfills are properly equipped to handle this type of contamination.

We excavated a staggering 700 tons of contaminated soil from the site.

Full Site Remediation

Once all contaminated soil was removed and VOC readings were under safe levels, we moved on to site remediation. We take a great deal of pride in our work, which means that in addition to cleaning the site fully of all contamination, we repair the land and give it the potential to grow back to how it was prior to the spill.

Full site remediation for this project entailed smoothing and reshaping the ditches on both sides of the highway, replacing MDOT’s check dams for erosion control, placing topsoil, seeding, fertilizing, and finally covering all reseeded areas with straw mats to prevent erosion and promote grass growth.

We believe a year from now, once the grass has regrown, you may look at this stretch of highway as though “It Never Even Happened.”

We offer 24/7 Emergency Spill Response Cleanup Services. Call us any time day or night to reach a live dispatcher.