Home Global Truck driver dumped 2,000 gallons of ‘asphalt binder’ in California forest, CHP says

Truck driver dumped 2,000 gallons of ‘asphalt binder’ in California forest, CHP says

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Truck driver dumped 2,000 gallons of ‘asphalt binder’ in California forest, CHP says
A trailer overturned, spilling hot asphalt binder on Highway 199 in Northern California on April 26, 2022.

A trailer overturned, spilling hot asphalt binder on Highway 199 in Northern California on April 26, 2022.

Six Rivers National Forest/Handout

A truck driver who law enforcement believes was driving under the influence dumped 2,000 gallons of “hot asphalt binder” in a California forest this week.

Raoul Payette, Jr., 58, was driving on Highway 199 in Del Norte County Tuesday with a damaged tire, California Highway Patrol said. Near the town of Gasquet, CHP says Payette’s semi-truck drifted off the road and into a power pole, which fell onto the highway. He allegedly continued on for another mile until the trailer he was towing overturned. 

Officials from Six Rivers National Forest said the trailer contained 2,000 gallons of “hot asphalt binder,” which began seeping into the Smith River. 

“Asphalt binder turns into a solid substance once the temperature of the binder reaches about 100-125 degrees — which means when the material hit the cold river it turned into a solid,” national forest spokespeople wrote on Facebook. “Although we are still concerned with possible harm done to natural resources, knowing more about the substance re-assures us the spread of liquid material in the river is minimal.”

A quick response by forest workers, Caltrans, Del Norte County Office of Emergency Services and other agencies minimized the spread of the chemicals. They believe there are no impacts to water quality. Highway 199 was closed for several hours while they conducted clean-up operations.

Wild Rivers Outpost reports that Payette, who is from Klamath Falls, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and misdemeanor hit and run.

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