A truck carrying heating oil overturned on Interstate 83, causing major traffic delays in northern Baltimore and some potential impact to the environment.

A fuel truck overturned on Interstate 83 Tuesday morning, blocking traffic for hours in North Baltimore and spilling red-dyed heating oil into the Jones Falls stream.

About 2,500 gallons of heating oil spilled into the Jones Falls, said Jay Apperson, spokesman for the Maryland Department of the Environment. Crews captured another 300 gallons of fuel on I-83 before it reached the stream.


Heating oil is routinely dyed to distinguish it from diesel fuel, and the spill colored the Jones Falls pink near the wreck on northbound I-83 south of Northern Parkway.

The northbound lanes remained closed for nearly four hours after the 8 a.m. crash.

Emergency crews worked to capture and vacuum up the heating oil near the scene of the wreck. Downstream, workers deployed a series of oil booms to block fuel from reaching the Inner Harbor. They deployed the floating booms where the stream resurfaces downtown beside South President Street.

“We don’t believe it’s gotten past that. We got down there ahead of it,” said Geoffrey Donahue, who oversaw the cleanup for the Department of the Environment.

Vacuum trucks will draw up the fuel trapped by the booms, he said. The cleanup efforts could continue into next week. Workers also will walk the stream banks to clear any leaves and debris that trapped oil.

Carroll Fuel Oil Co. owns the truck and is helping with the cleanup, as are hazmat crews with the city fire department, officials said

They said there are no health hazards associated with the spill.

Unlike ethanol-based gasoline, the heating oil should remain on the surface of the water, Donahue said. He said it thus poses less of a threat to fish and wildlife and should be easier to clean up.

“We certainly expect to get a large portion of it,” he said.

The driver was not hurt, firefighters said, and it was not known what caused the truck to overturn. Police were investigating.