Duxbury fire, police and the harbormaster spent two days over the weekend trying to free a pick-up truck and front end loader that became stuck off Powder Point Bridge Friday morning.
Late Friday morning a utility vehicle was stuck in the muck off the bridge. A white pickup truck went out to rescue the UTV, ultimately pulling the UTV out enough so that it could drive out under its own power, but the truck then got stuck in the sand. A front end loader, owned by Milton Cat and rented to Fred E. Nava & Son from Kingston, the company currently working on the beach repairs, drove out to assist the pickup truck. Both vehicles got trapped in the sand as the tide came in under the bridge.
Crews worked from Friday to Saturday morning, through two tide cycles, to free the truck and loader.
By Friday afternoon, the pickup truck and front end loader were completely submerged under the rising tide. The loader operator was stranded on top of the vehicle and Harbormaster Don Beers went out in his boat to pick him up. Crews set up booms throughout the afternoon to contain any fuel leakage from the diesel engines. Booms are yellow perimeters that contain oil spills.
“Part of our success in putting out oil booms was thanks to the oyster guys, Billy Bennett and his grandson Joey, who came out of nowhere and were a tremendous help for three hours,” Beers said.
Towing the vehicles out of the sand could not be attempted until the low tide around 9 p.m. on Friday evening. After an excavator from Emerald Excavating, the company hired to remove the stranded vehicles, was able to remove the pickup truck on Friday evening, the tide was coming in after an hour of work and forced the crews to leave the front loader until their next attempt on Saturday morning’s low tide. During the time the vehicles were stuck, the Commonwealth shut down shellfishing in the area from the habormaster’s office to the beach in order to ensure the area was safe and oil-free. Once the vehicles were removed, the area was re-opened for shellfishing.
The front end loader was eventually freed by two excavators during Saturday morning’s low tide. It took about 40 minutes to release the powerful suction holding the loader in the sand.
Beers went down to the bridge early Saturday morning to see if any oil had leaked and discovered a small sheen of oil. He placed absorbent pads on the area and said he believes they fully absorbed all the oil in the area.
The pickup truck and UTV belonged to Fibrwrap Construction Services, Inc., from Providence, RI, the company currently working on repairs to the bridge. The loader was sent down to help pull the truck out and both became submerged as the rising tide overtook the vehicles.
Fire chief Kevin Nord, who was notified of the incident around 10:30 Friday morning, said there was no life hazard to the drivers of the vehicles, as a Harbormaster boat was sent out to rescue them. Nord said the priority was to contain fluids from the trucks.
“There was a potential for pollution from these trucks,” Nord said Friday afternoon. “We were looking at about a hundred gallons of fluid from these trucks so we laid out a ring to stop the fluid from spilling further in the water.”
On Friday afternoon, Nord said the state’s Department of Environmental Protection had been notified and an environmental company would come in to assess the pollution potential. A major concern, Nord said, is that it is an agricultural area and any leakage would greatly affect the area. A service technician from Clean Harbors was on site to watch over the extraction process and kept an eye out for any fuel leaks.
Nord said the companies will be looking at extensive costs because of the incident. He said Fibrwrap Construction Services, Inc., is responsible for all costs incurred in removing the vehicles from the bay and reimbursement to the town of Duxbury for public safety workers.