West Loop re-opens after traffic nightmare

HOUSTON Traffic was shut down in both directions on the Loop between Highway 59 and Beechnut, but around 7:45pm, all lanes were reopened. The Bellaire exit, however, remains closed. The cause of the closure was an overturned tanker truck carrying 7,200 gallons of gasoline.

It started Friday morning around 11am when the driver of the tanker truck was making a U-Turn beneath the freeway. The load of gasoline shifted and caused the vehicle to overturn. Gas from the tanker spilled onto the street and into the storm sewers. The driver was not seriously injured.

A second tanker truck was brought in so officials could offload the remaining gas from the overturned tanker. A HazMat crew was working to flush out the storm sewers.

"Houston HazMat has been on scene," said Bellaire Fire Chief Darryl Anderson. "They've been using their drills and a device called a stinger to reach into the bottom of that tank. The one large tank is subdivided into four smaller tanks and they're using that tool to reach in and try to suck out the gas so they can upright the tank and get on with their business."

A voluntary shelter-in-place was issued for residents in the area because of the gas that had leaked into the storm sewers, and a spark could have ignited it. Businesses were also evacuated in nearby buildings shortly after the accident.

Bellaire fire officials estimate between 1,200 to 1,500 gallons of gas leaked out, but they say not all of that got into Bellaire's sewer system.

Remediation experts will monitor to see if any of the spilled gasoline ends up in surrounding waterways. The trucking company will be billed for the cleanup.

As for the tanker truck driver, we're told he had some bumps and bruises, but was otherwise fine.

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