Tulsa trucking company appeals a hazardous materials charge

Tuesday, January 27th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The Tulsa City Council might overturn a hazardous materials fee charged to a trucking company that actually was not hauling anything hazardous.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan has the story.

The chances are good if you see a truck hauling an oversized load, it's on a trailer from Stone Trucking. They haul big things - but their company is small and run by the Stone family.

Normally a hill is no trouble - but a hill on 71st Street turned into a $5,600 headache last October. One of their trucks fuel tanks started leaking on this hill - spilling 40 gallons of diesel on the road.

The Tulsa Fire Department responded - and sent a bill for the cleanup. The first truck was a thousand dollars an hour, the next two, and $900 dollars an hour each. They stayed for 2 hours - which turned into a bill for $5,600. The trucking company thinks that bill was not only outrageous, but also unwarranted. They say their employees cleaned up the mess, while the fire department mainly just stood by and watched. Regardless of what happened that day, the city council is left with a mess of its own.

They passed an ordinance with good intentions, but it really hasn't worked the way they hoped. Dennis Beyer with the Tulsa Fire Department: “We don't know when we leave the scene what we're going to need so we take it all.” The city council questioned the fire department about the bill. And the owner of the trucking company watched with his money on the line.

City councilor Sam Roop, “what's in the tank, what's on the flatbed, the actual cargo if you will, we're concerned about that, not about what's in someone's gas tanks.”

Stone Trucking's challenge might not only save them money - it could make a difference for everyone.

The council seems ready to change the ordinance so a leaky fuel tank won't turn into mountain of city paperwork. In the six months since the city council enacted the fee, the city has billed several companies - but not collected a penny - because they're all either on appeal or have been forgiven by the city.

The city has collected about $40,000 in subscription fees that will give a business a hazardous materials response for no charge.