'Accidents happen': Yukon fuel company defends road safety record after recent crashes

A dispatcher with Pacesetter Petroleum says the company's track record is 'impeccable,' despite two recent crashes that closed the Alaska Highway for hours each time.

A dispatcher with Pacesetter Petroleum says company's record 'impeccable' despite two recent crashes

Traffic was lining up at points on the Alaska Highway while people waited for the highway to reopen. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

A petroleum supply company in Whitehorse whose trucks have closed the Alaska Highway for hours at a time twice in the past two months is defending its record.

"Our track record is impeccable really for the amount of miles we put on, we run about 5 million litres a month," said Dave Geoghegan, a dispatcher for Pacesetter Petroleum.

Geoghegan said Pacesetter has 12 trucks on the road, almost all the time.

"Accidents happen, it just takes a split second and there's a problem," he said.

One of the company's trucks towing two tankers crashed on the Alaska Highway Monday night near the Rancheria Lodge west of Watson Lake.

The truck spilled 29,000 litres of fuel, according to the latest report from Environment Yukon, with the highway being closed for almost 24 hours.

In June, a Pacesetter truck turned over at the intersection of the Alaska and North Klondike highways, closing both roads for much of the day.

About 6,000 litres of fuel spilled in that crash.

Both crashes caused considerable inconvenience to many travellers, with traffic line-ups kilometres long forming each time

Geoghegan said there was no negligence on the driver's part in this latest incident.

"He looked over, I think, and looked for something on the seat and sometimes, [crashes happen] if you take your eyes off the road for a split second."

The fuel tankers should be removed Thursday, said John Ryder at Environment Yukon, with the removal of contaminated soil beginning within a day or two.

With files from Philippe Morin