Nearly 400 homes evacuated after tanker carrying gasoline, diesel overturns in Bethlehem neighborhood

Residents in Bethlehem were forced out of their homes early Thursday morning after a tanker carrying gasoline and diesel overturned in Bethlehem. 

Authorities say the tanker overturned in the area of West Union Boulevard and Paul Avenue around 2:30 a.m.

Officials about 6,000 gallons are believed to have spilled out on the road. 


Bethlehem police say about 1,000 people were evacuated from about 400 homes in the area just before 3:30 a.m.

Officials also say police began knocking on doors of homes within 1,000 yards of the spill to make sure everyone got out of the area safely. 

Evacuees have been sent to the Nitschmann Middle School, according to police. 

Police say the tanker's driver was taken to the hospital for evaluation and a mandatory blood test, as is standard after a crash. 

Bethlehem Fire Department's HAZMAT team and the Lehigh County HAZMAT team were on scene, as well. 

Authorities say the owner of the tanker contracted a hazardous waste company to clean up the scene and manage runoff.

Officials temporarily deployed a containment boom, often used in oil spills, on the Monocacy Creek in the area of Conestoga Street, but officials do not believe any gasoline or diesel got into the water. The city of Bethlehem Emergency Management Coordinator, Robert Novatnack says crews are placing a top priority regarding the long-term impact of the spilled gasoline.

"What they're doing is isolating it and mitigating it and making it safe for the residents. The environmental aspect will take time to clean up. It's not going to happen today. It'll take time to clean up" Novatnack said.

The evacuation order for residents was lifted around 4:30 in the late afternoon, though they are being cautioned to avoid Union Boulevard.