Crews remove fallen crane from Chena River

Posted: Friday, July 02, 2010

FAIRBANKS - Crews have finished removing a crane that fell into the Chena River and continue to clean up the fuel that spilled into the water.

The final piece of the crane, the hammer used to drive pylons into the river for the future site of a bridge, was pulled from river and taken from the construction site on the back of a tractor-trailer, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Thursday.

The $350,000 crane has been declared a loss. The hammer, worth about $250,000, is salvageable, said Meadow Bailey, a state Department of Transportation spokeswoman.

Fuel-trapping booms were still in the river. Though the crane had a tank on it that could hold up to 200 gallons of fuel, less than 50 gallons entered the water, Bailey said.

The crane operator, who escaped from the equipment as it fell to its side, avoided serious injury and was released from a Fairbanks hospital.

Bailey said the accident is unlikely to delay construction of the bridge by more than a few days because the contractor - Anchorage-based Sandstrom & Sons, Inc. - had almost finished piledriving the pylons into the river.

One of the company's owners, Jeff Sandstrom, told Bailey he was not yet ready to discuss the incident, but had not seen a company crane tip over in 30 years of working in construction.

The cause of the collapse has not been determined.

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