Hot Tar Spill Forces Temporary Closure of Vt. Road, Injures Worker

Route 11 in Springfield, Vermont, was closed for several hours Monday

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An emergency at a road paving job site in Vermont's Windsor County forced travel detours and an environmental response Monday after an equipment malfunction.

Officials in Springfield are looking into what went wrong with a machine used for paving to cause roughly 1,500 gallons of tar to spray from a hose.

Route 11 in Springfield, at the intersection of Bellows Road, was closed for several hours Monday morning before reopening early afternoon, Vermont State Police and the Vermont Agency of Transportation said.

Officials with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources responded to the scene, aiming to keep tar from oozing into a nearby brook. NECN's and NBC10 Boston's partner in Vermont newsgathering, NBC 5 News, reported that a small amount of tar did seep into the water.

"Not anywhere close to 1,500 gallons has made it into the waterway," James Donaldson of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources assured NBC 5 News. "My estimate, based on just the visual back here, is probably less than 10 gallons. There's a lot of it trapped in soil that they're trying to remove because it is slowly still bleeding into the water. But once they're done digging this bank behind me, that should preclude any additional oil additions or emulsion additions."

Donaldson indicated additional cleanup work, including excavating dirt, will continue.

Local fire officials told NBC 5 News the operator of the piece of paving equipment that malfunctioned was taken to the hospital for what were described as non-life-threatening injuries — including burns from tar.

As messy and impactful as the situation was, first responders said it could have actually been even worse, since the tar tank reportedly had a capacity of 2,200 gallons.

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