Main Street to Remain Closed for Oil Spill Cleanup, Will Reopen This Weekend

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The spill of mineral oil over the surface of Main Street will take a few more days to clean up, meaning the stretch of road will remain closed through Saturday at the earliest, said Watertown Public Works Superintendent Gerry Mee. 

The oil must be cleaned off the road surface, and the remaining oil (from the casing of an Eversource electrical line) must be removed before the line can be repaired. The process is a lengthy one, Mee said.

“They have to freeze the line above and below the point where it broke to stop the last oil from leaking out,” Mee said. “The freezing process takes 24 hours.”

To clean the road, sand is put down followed by Speedy Dry, which soaks up the oil, and then the area must be power brushed and swept up, Mee said. This process must be repeated until the oil is removed.

The oil was discovered bubbling up through a man hole on Monday evening when an alert Watertown Police officer saw a vehicle ahead of him slide, according to Watertown Police Lt. James O’Connor.

An estimated 1,500 to 2,000 gallons of oil poured out of the electrical wire, which connects electrical transmission stations in Brighton and Waltham, Mee said. Despite the volume of the spill, a major environmental problem was avoided.

“It got into one catch basin, but to have a spill of that magnitude and not have it in the (Charles) River is a major accomplishment,” Mee said. “The actions of the Police, Fire and DPW dramatically decreased the impact. I am very proud of what we did.”

Main Street remains closed between Waverley Avenue and Whites Avenue. Mee said there is still a chance that one lane will be opened in the area before Saturday, but he added that the cleanup will last until Saturday, if not Sunday.

Despite the road closure, Town officials said that Thursday evening’s Summer Concert will go on as planned.

Second Incident

While most of the DPW’s attention was focused on the major spill on Main Street, a second environmental incident occurred in town on Tuesday. This one occurred on Nash Street, a side street just off Main Street west of the Watertown Police Station.

Crews replacing a manhole on the street detected an odor of gasoline, so they brought in the Fire Department and notified the Mass. Department of Environmental Protection, Mee said.

The soil in the area is being tested for gasoline. The source of the spill has not yet been determined, Mee said.

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