Traffic near mile 26 of the Kenai Spur Highway is moving slowly as workers with the Department of Transportation work to scrape spilled drilling mud off of the highway.
Traffic is currently down to one lane as of 1 p.m. Tuesday and could remain restricted through about 5:30 p.m. as crews work to clean the road, said Department of Transportation Station Manager Brian Gabriel.
A driver delivering the mud to a monofill dumping site operated by AIMM Technologies Inc. on Halliburton Road, slowed to make a turn and spilled the mud on the highway and in the ditch in front of Charlie’s Pizza, said Steve Chamberlain, owner of the pizza parlor.
The spill happened sometime between midnight at about 7:30 a.m., Chamberlain. The longtime Nikiski resident had put signs up in the parking lot of his restaurant warning passersby that drilling mud had been spilled in the area. He said he was concerned that the mud was being tracked into his parking lot and seeping into the ground near his well.
An AIMM representative on site, Scott Anderson, said the company was still determining what had happened but that the mud came from a truck delivering drilling waste from a site owned by Cook Inlet Energy. Anderson said it would be the responsibility of the trucking company to clean up the waste.
“This whole thing just happened,” Anderson said early Tuesday afternoon. “We’re still in the ‘figure-it-out’ phase.”
Anderson said that the mud came from natural gas drilling sites and is not hazardous.
Alaska Department of Environmental conservation program specialist Don Fritz echoed Anderson’s assertion that the waste was non-hazardous and said the situation was unfortunate for everyone involved.