LIVE: Transformer Falls off Truck; South Side of Public Square Closed

Date: Dec. 28, 2015

WATERTOWN, NY (WWNY) – It happened a little after 10 a.m. Monday An electrical transformer fell off a delivery truck on Watertown’s Public Square, leaking non-toxic oil all over the road.

No one was hurt. One car had a little damage, but none of the oil spilled into the city sewer.

“Crews have mitigated it to the point where we kept it out of the storm sewers and sanitary sewers,” Watertown city Fire Chief Dale Herman said.

The spill shut down the south side of the square with traffic routed around it the whole day. Only a crosswalk remained open on the south side.

The square reopened shortly after 5 p.m.

Herman said the incident was unusual.

“When we think of a transformer,” he said, “we think of one that up on a utility pole, a small quantity, this is a very large transformer that would be at a substation location.”

At one time such a spill would be toxic, because of cancer-causing PCBs that were once used inside transformers. But now transformers are made with mineral oil, which is not toxic.

Clean up wasn’t dangerous, just tedious. The Department of Environmental Conservation, which goes to most spills, toxic or not, was at the scene monitoring the cleanup by Eggan Environmental Services from Rome, N.Y.

As far as who picks up the tab for clean up, the fire chief says that will be the truck driver’s company.