Expect traffic delays for a couple more days as I-24 cleanup con - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: THP rules driver of truck "failed to maintain lane" in I-24 crash

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UPDATE: The driver of the tractor trailer "failed to maintain lane" and left the road, according to the THP crash report.

The report states the driver was ejected from the tanker after striking the guardrail and overturning in a small creek.

Troopers estimate the truck was traveling at 70 mph.

PREVIOUS STORY: The cleanup continues on I-24, five days after a tanker truck overturned on the interstate. Traffic delays in the eastbound lanes are still an issue in the area.

A short stretch of the interstate near exit 161 in Marion County is down to one lane while crews work in the creek where the truck crashed. That's causing some backups up to 15 miles. Officials expect work to continue for at least a couple more days.

"There's no contamination in the water, there's no hazard to anybody, right now it's just a big mess that's ugly that we want to get out of the way," said Marion County EMA Director Steve Lamb.

Dozens of workers were down in Running Water Creek with shovels on Monday, digging up the spill from last Thursday morning's wreck.

It took almost two days to get the truck out of the embankment before the could real cleanup could begin. A part of the creek is now sectioned off to help contain the spill.

"Based on the physical properties of the material, it's very hard to handle," Lamb said.

Officials haven't determined just how much spilled into the creek, which feeds to the Tennessee River.

The liquid resin material is often used in fiberglass filler. Lamb compares its consistency to taffy -- sticky, heavy and not easy to rake up.

"It's just not like picking something up that's laying on the ground," he said. "There's a lot of physical manpower involved in getting it in a container we can get up the bank."

The workers are contracted through the trucking company, Miller Transport, which is based out of Jackson, Mississippi.

The driver, who was in ICU, is still in the hospital and is expected to be OK. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

No estimate yet on the cost of the cleanup, but the trucking company will get the bill.

Although the weekend warm up helped speed things up, the conditions still aren't easy to work in.

"It's very cold. Very difficult working conditions," Lamb said. "We have to bring them out every once in a while and let them rest. With the steep banks of the creek, it makes it very difficult and unfortunately, a slow and tedious process."

Water quality representatives from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation will be on site Tuesday to check out the current cleanup efforts and recommend the next steps.

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