By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — Seventh Street and Pine was temporarily closed off Friday afternoon, May 29, after an electrical transformer fell off a truck, leaking a hazardous chemical onto the street.
The Newkirk Fire Department received the call about 1 p.m. and arrived on the scene to find the spill on the street, and with the help of the Newkirk Police Department (NPS) and Kay County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO), soon had the scene blockaded to keep traffic away from the spill.
The spill contained polychlorinated biphenyl, or PCB, a toxic substance used in the oil inside older electrical transformers. Electrical crews had replaced the transformer at the rodeo arena, and were transporting it on a truck when it fell off, causing the leak. The chemical is highly toxic to the environment.
“It’s found in a lot of older transformers. Electrical crews were hauling a transformer, and it fell off and busted on the road,” said Fire Chief Adam Longcrier. “It eats tires, rubber, plastic, it can eat away at the road.”
Because of the toxicity of the chemical, the first responders contacted the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, and a specialized cleanup team from Guthrie, Okla. arrived to remove the spill, which was finished later that night, Longcrier said.
Several vehicles did drive through the scene before it was blockaded, but those vehicles were found to be undamaged, and the street also was unharmed, he said.
Longcrier is pleased with the way the first responders addressed the scene.
“Luckily, the guys at the fire department have gone through hazmat training, so they know how to deal with it when it happens,” Longcrier said. “I appreciate the NPD and KCSO for blocking off the road while they cleaned up, and getting barricades so there wouldn’t be any problems.”