A bill totaling almost $100,000 has been submitted to two insurance carriers for state and county expenses related to the cleanup of the July 28 cyanide spill that closed I-15 in one of the state's largest chemical spills.
But there is no guarantee the state will be reimbursed for all or part of its expenses."There's a long-standing tradition that the responsible parties pay for cleanup," said Wes Dewsnup, Hazardous Materials Institute Program Director for the state Division of Comprehensive Emergency Management. "There's no mechanism in place to force payment. There's some concern the state could get stuck with the bill."
Meanwhile, the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Transportation and Millard County will "front the money until the issue is resolved and the check is in hand."
A 60-mile stretch of I-15 between Scipio and Cove Fort was closed to traffic for several days when some 240 gallons of sodium cyanide briquettes spilled about 20 miles south of Fillmore. According to the driver's report, the top layer of briquettes broke loose on a curve, rupturing 80 of the 180 drums on the truck.
The toxic chemical, used in electroplating and as an insecticide, spilled along a three-quarter mile section of the north- and southbound lanes of I-15. The spill occurred in a rural area, and no evacuation was necessary.
A Utah Highway Patrol trooper, the truck driver and a second truck driver who unwittingly drove through the accident scene were treated for symptoms of minor cyanide poisoning. The truck was en route from California to Green River, Wyo.
State and county governments have been working closely with representatives from the insurance carriers for Great Western Chemical of Portland, Ore., and the Simons and Sons trucking company of Aurora, Colo., to resolve the question of reimbursement for clean up costs.
So far, UDOT has spent $60,000 for manpower and equipment, the Department of Public Safety has expended another $20,100 and Millard County has spent a minimum of $11,685. Some bills are still outstanding.
And that total does not include the "countless volunteer hours" contributed by the Red Cross, the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations.
"We have not billed for those hours, but (the insurance companies) have been requested to make donations to those volunteer organizations," Dewsnup said.
Nor do the accident costs include the indirect costs to Millard County or interstate truckers from the closure of I-15 and truck traffic diverted to other state highways.
There should be no long-term environmental effects related to the cyanide spill. The State Health Department has issued a statement declaring the site clean.
"We are very fortunate that it was a chemical that can be neutralized," Dewsnup said.