I-17 101 traffic interchange

Overseeing cleanups, ADOT looks out for the environment ‒ and taxpayers

Overseeing cleanups, ADOT looks out for the environment ‒ and taxpayers

January 27, 2016

PHOENIX ‒ When fuel and other hazardous materials spill along our highways, the Arizona Department of Transportation makes sure the messes are cleaned up properly ‒ and that taxpayers aren’t stuck with the bill.

During 2015, ADOT’s Hazardous Materials Response Team saved an estimated $2.6 million by making the commercial carriers responsible or their insurance companies pay to remove contaminants from the soil. Taxpayers would otherwise be responsible for these environmental remediation costs, and the state would have been liable for fines and sanctions if the spills weren’t addressed properly.

Most of the 150 to 250 hazardous materials incidents ADOT responds to each year involve fuel spilling from trucks involved in crashes. About 40 to 50 incidents each year involve shipments of hazardous materials including fuel and acids.

Thanks to the Hazardous Materials Response Team’s efforts, all but a handful of the cleanups are paid for by commercial carriers or insurance companies.

“ADOT is committed to environmental responsibility and making the most efficient use of funds,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “The record of success the Hazardous Materials Response Team has established over the years preserves money for transportation needs.”

When a hazardous materials spill occurs, public safety is the first priority for ADOT and other agencies responding. After that, ADOT makes sure those responsible pay to clean up the road and right of way using contractors approved by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

“It’s just doing the right thing not only for ADOT but for the taxpayers of Arizona,” said Travis V. Qualls, the agency's hazardous materials response specialist. “Why should we be paying for someone else releasing a hazardous material on our property?”

ADEQ requires a higher level of cleanup in residential areas, but ADOT requires the residential standard regardless of where a spill occurs. The contractor handling a cleanup must complete work as instructed by

ADOT and provide the samples of soil before and after as well as documentation of where contaminated soil is taken.

For more information on ADOT, visit azdot.gov.