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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingFebruary 20 - February 26, 2019

Overturned Gasoline Tanker

0 9819c
By Jim "Buck" Sorrenti

DeFalco's Automotive & Towing has been a family-owned and operated business for 40 years. The company is owned by Cheryl DeFalco and William Rempfer Sr.

On the morning of Aug. 16, 2015, the New Jersey State Police called DeFalco's to respond to an overturned loaded gasoline tanker off road and leaking gas at the Route 24 West ramp to Route 287 South.

Recovery Specialist Kenny Reinhardt, DeFalco's Manager of Heavy Towing Operations and their recovery supervisor, was dispatched as per N.J. State Police standard operating procedure.

DeFalco's also dispatched their NRC 50-ton, 40-ton and 25-ton sliding rotators, an emergency response truck with hazmat supplies, an emergency response truck with tools and recovery equipment, two 21' flatbeds to take away the debris and truck/trailer parts, a truck for traffic and a truck for rear traffic control and operator.

"We observed an overturned gasoline tanker on its right side," Reinhardt said. "The tank was leaking gasoline from the rear compartment and from the very front compartment also. The tractor was severely damaged and the entire nose was ripped off.

"At this time we were asked to position our 50-ton NRC Sliding Rotator and run securing lines to prevent the unit from rolling/sliding further down the embankment and into the woods, to allow the Hazmat Team to pump out the tanks when they arrived. We felt this was a safe, secure thing to do to prevent a more catastrophic event from happening."
They positioned the 50-ton rotator near the tanker, rotated and extended the boom. Nylon endless loop recovery straps were attached to the tractor and to the trailer. The winch lines were carefully lowered into position and attached to the nylon straps in order to keep the wire rope from coming into contact with the tractor or trailer.

The units were commonly grounded to each other and to a grounding rod driven into the earth by the Department of Environmental Protection's Hazmat unit.

"Tension was applied to secure the tanker and then we were told to step back 50 yards," said Reinhardt. "When the unloading contractor arrived, we held a conference with fire, DEP, NJSP, Hazmat teams and EMS and went over what each portion of the recovery would entail. We were all in agreement that the plan we had would work."

After the tanker was completely emptied and the fire department deemed it safe, they positioned their second heavy-duty to attach to the rear of the tanker, again using nylon recovery straps. The 40- and 50-ton rotators started to lift and winch the entire unit to the road.

As they reached the top of the embankment, the unit was rotated to a position where the wheels were directly in a position to come in contact with solid pavement. The unit was then lowered to the roadway. The tractor's diesel fuel tanks were pumped dry by DeFalco's and the unit was made ready for towing.

"As soon as we were sure the truck's brakes were applied and working," Reinhardt said, "(the 25-ton rotator) was detached from the trailer along with (the 40-ton and 50-ton rotator). The unit was then cribbed and blocked, the tractor maxi-brakes released using R-1 "T" releasing bolts, air lines run to the trailer and the unit was then towed out of the ramp and spill area."

DeFalco's clean up crew assisted the hazmat team in bagging and tagging all gasoline and oils that spilled onto the roadway after the tanker was removed. Ten bags of absorbent were used, swept up and bagged and tagged for proper disposal (gas, oil and coolant).

"We were then cleared from the scene by fire and DEP," said Reinhardt, "and towed the unit back to our yard in Chatham, N.J., for safekeeping and storage. All equipment and trucks were returned to pre-incident condition and all supplies used were then replaced into the proper trucks. We arrived on scene at roughly 9 a.m. and were finished by 9 p.m."

(This article originally appeared in the August 26, 2015 edition of Tow Industry Week.)

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Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim "Buck" Sorrenti at ; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!
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