Big Rig Flips, Spills 1,700 Gallons of Gasoline on Sir Francis Drake in San Rafael

CHP officials say commuters should be aware that the road may remain closed for much of Monday, and likely into the evening commute.

This big rig hauling two trailers full of gasoline flipped around 7 a.m. near San Quentin State Prison.  SRFD photo.
This big rig hauling two trailers full of gasoline flipped around 7 a.m. near San Quentin State Prison. SRFD photo.
Update 5:10 p.m.:  
San Rafael Fire Chief Chris Gray released the following update:

Emergency work continues along Sir Francis Drake near San Quentin to clean-up the large fuel spill that occurred [Monday] morning.  

Recovery efforts have been productive and steady throughout the day, despite several challenges. All operations have been conducted in a safe and expeditious manner.

Flammable fuel has now been safely removed from the perimeter of the area and the fuel transfer process of removing several thousand gallons from both the damaged and undamaged tanks on the overturned truck has begun. 

Once the fuel transfer process is safely completed, the damaged truck will be righted and hauled away to a safe location.  The roadway around and beneath the truck is also damaged and will require emergency repairs before reopening the road for safe travel by motorists.

The road closure on Sir Francis Drake will remain in effect well into the evening hours.

Motorists are urged to please avoid the area.   

Please be safe out there.


Update 4 p.m.: 

California Highway Patrol officials said Monday afternoon that the big-rig was still blocking the roadway and it might not be reopened until 10 p.m. 


Original story as follows:

An estimated 1,700 gallons of gasoline spilled along a busy San Rafael road Monday morning, when a big rig overturned in the area, CHP officials report.
It all started just before 7 a.m., when a Sacramento man was hauling a big rig westbound on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, west of Anderson Drive in San Rafael.  
"Attached to the truck were two tank trailers containing approximately 1,700 gallons of gasoline each," CHP Officer Andrew Barclay said in a statement. 
Barclay said investigators believe that while the truck was going west on Sir Francis Drake, "...the right side tires on one of the trailers traveled onto the soft dirt shoulder, causing the trailer to begin to slide out." 
The driver tried to correct the issue, but instead lost all control of the vehicle and trailers. 
"As a result, the truck and trailers rolled onto their right side and slid across the eastbound lane of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard before coming to rest blocking all lanes," Barclay said, adding that the driver was able to free himself from the wreckage with no injuries.
Though the truck and first trailer didn't go any further from that point, the back trailer "continued to roll" and eventually came to a rest on its roof, according to the CHP.  When that happened, it was punctured and all of the fuel began to leak out. 
"All agencies on scene coordinated a containment plan to protect homes and waterways in the area," Barclay said.  "In order to eliminate any ignition source from the area, PG&E was contacted and power in the area was shut off."
What's more, nearby houses in the San Quentin Village were evacuated as a precaution.
"Sir Francis Boulevard between Larkspur Landing Circle and I-580 was closed and traffic was diverted onto city streets," Barclay said.  "As a result of the closures, traffic was backed up on I-580 from San Rafael into Richmond as well as on surface streets in San Rafael."
Nearby ferry commuters at Larkspur Landing weren't affected, he said. 
Now that the area has been contained, a second big rig has been called out to the scene to help remove the spilled gas and carry off the gas from the still-intact trailer, according to Barclay.
"Once all of the fuel has been removed from the trailers a heavy duty tow truck will begin the process or righting the truck and trailers so they can be cleared from the roadway," he said.  "Once the vehicles are cleared a hazardous materials team will assess the scene and determine what cleanup procedures need to be performed."
Since it appears that all the fuel inside the second trailer may have leaked out, crews worked to contain it in dams and clear it with pumps.

"It is unknown when Sir Francis Drake will fully reopen to traffic, however the preliminary estimate is sometime after the evening commute has started," CHP Officer Barclay said. 
Barclay warned that the roads most likely to be affected are US-101 in San Rafael as well westbound I-580 entering Marin County. 

Patch will update this breaking news story as more information becomes available. 

Lou Judson July 14, 2014 at 06:06 PM
The real issue here is that SFDrake is not sufficient to carry major highway traffic from the bridge to Marin and back again. MAJOR road revisions are long overdue. Witness also the long slow lines of traffic creeping to the beidge in the afternoons and mornings. Big new interchange is need at 580 and 101 so these big trucks and the working peons can get where they need to go without excessive danger and slowdowns. WAY overdue! SFDrake was never intende to be a mofor bridge inroad - imagine Bridgeway in Sausalito carrying half the GG bridge traffic and the needs become obvious.
Dale W. Miller July 14, 2014 at 08:27 PM
A major problem is the risk of hauling hazardous and toxic petroleum fuels on Marin roads. Drivers of electric cars don’t need to worry about any increase in gas prices - they are only paying 2 to 4 cents per mile for their electricity. EV drivers aren’t contributing to the need for gas trucks on Marin roads. This spill is extremely costly to Marin drivers stuck in traffic, it causes more GHGs to be produced by the internal combustion vehicles in the traffic jam, and the spilled gasoline is causing environmental damage. Switching to electric cars reduces the likelihood of future spills because fewer truck loads of gasoline will be needed in Marin and will save a significant amount of money for the people who buy/lease EVs.
Bubba six pack July 15, 2014 at 09:41 AM
Since this was only a short cut from the real interchange of 580 and 101, I'm surprised at the congestion. Did they put up signs telling the motorists at either end of the problem and solution?
Jim Caldwell July 15, 2014 at 10:20 AM
EV cars and drivers are very much subject to increased gas prices, unless your food is teleported to stores. And more EV cars means they all can't be "deep green" and that demand will increase energy prices from your coal-powered ego sedans, let alone the energy to build new cars and to build and one day dispose toxic batteries. And don't forget Fed aubsidies and free bridge passage. My '66 bug runs rings around you in regards to carbon footprint.
Jim Caldwell July 15, 2014 at 10:23 AM
Bubba - there is no interchange from 580w to 101s and at best 101n to 580e is an exit and a signal. Add in all the east bay pass through traffic and it's a mess.


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