Clean-up is continuing nearly two weeks after a tanker truck spilled more than 8,000 gallons of fuel in Pulaski County, Kentucky.
A fuel spill of this magnitude would have caused problems no matter the location. But the accident on January 30 was in the midst of the Sloans Valley cave system near Somerset, and early tests showed that at least some of the fuel entered the cave.
Kevin Strohmeier is an emergency response coordinator with the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection. He says since Friday, air tests for volatile organic compounds at cave entrances have been negative. This could mean that all of the fuel that got into the cave has volatilized and evaporated, but Strohmeier says there are still environmental concerns at the spill site.
“I think probably just making sure that we try to maintain control of the source and if we can remove it, we do that,” he says. “If we can’t remove it, we monitor it and recover as much of it as possible.”
Strohmeier says he doesn’t yet know if there was any permanent damage done to the cave system by the spill. Caves are very sensitive environments, and wildlife officials have also been monitoring the local bat population. The cave was already closed to spelunkers because of the presence of White Nose Syndrome, but Strohmeier says the added danger posed by the spill means it’s especially important that people stay out.