LAUPAHOEHOE, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – One man is in serious condition Wednesday on the Big Island after the tanker truck he was driving flipped on its side, spilling naphtha on the roadway. The crash happened at 6:32 AM on the Honokaa side of Kaawalii Gulch on Highway 19 near the 28 mile marker.
The highway was closed for over nine hours as crews cleaned up the mess and then waited for air quality readings to return to safe levels. Police shut down the road at both entrances to Kaawalii Gulch, approximately two miles north of Laupahoehoe.
The 8,000 gallon tanker truck from C & F Trucking overturned, rupturing its storage tank and trapping the 40-year-old driver, who had to be extricated. He was transported to North Hawaii Community Hospital in Kamuela.
A vacuum tanker was able to capture some of the naphtha, but most of the 8,000 gallons of liquid was spilled. Crews worked for hours to dig up chemical-saturated soil, working until air quality levels reached safe readings. The naphtha was on its way to a Hamakua power plant, where it was to be used as fuel for power generating turbines
Naphtha is a petrochemical that is often used as a solvent. It is also an ingredient in lighter fluid and camp fuel. It is flammable and is considered to be a possible carcinogen in certain forms.