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A fuel tanker owned by 3-J Fuels of Champlain rolled over on Pelfershire Road in Moriah early Tuesday morning. The truck was carrying 9,000 gallons of fuel oil, about 2,600 gallons of which leaked from a rear compartment.

and KIM SMITH DEDAM

MORIAH -- A fuel tanker that overturned during Tuesday's snowstorm leaked 2,600 gallons of fuel oil on the side of Pelfershire Road here.

It was one of numerous accidents that took place on slick roads around the North Country Tuesday morning. However, State Police reported few injuries.

The tractor-trailer tanker turned onto Pelfershire Road from Route 9N/22, Moriah Town Police said, and was ascending a hill about one-eighth mile from the intersection when it lost traction on the snow-covered road and began to slide backward.

The driver, Noel A. Larabee, 41, of Plattsburgh, couldn't control the truck, and it overturned into a ditch on the south side of the road.

Larabee was taken to Elizabethtown Community Hospital by Moriah Ambulance, where he was treated for minor injuries and released.

The tanker, which was owned by 3-J Fuels Inc. of Champlain, had been making a delivery to a local fuel-oil retailer. Another tanker was sent to the crash to pump the remaining fuel off the truck.

The tanker that crashed carried 9,000 gallons of fuel oil in four compartments, but only the back one leaked.

Moriah Town Police, State Police from the Westport station and State Department of Environmental Conservation Police were all at the 7:30 a.m. crash, along with Mineville-Witherbee, Port Henry and Moriah fire departments.

Firefighters used a load of fill trucked in by the Moriah Sewer and Water Department to build a temporary dam in the ditch to contain the fuel that spilled. Essex County Emergency Services Deputy Director Donald Jaquish said that allowed much of the leaked fuel to be sucked up for disposal.

The Essex County Hazardous Materials Team was also at the accident with its mobile command post, monitoring the spill.

Pelfershire Road was closed for about four hours while the truck was pumped out and towed away.

No tickets were issued, pending completion of the investigation.

SCHOOL DELAYS

The storm sent cars skidding off the sides of roads and caused a number of property-damage accidents.

Sleet and icy roads delayed some schools in the region and closed others.

Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake schools had one-hour delays Tuesday morning.

"We wanted to wait until they could get out and sand the roads," said Diane Dechene, secretary to the Tupper Lake Central School superintendent.

At Saranac Lake, a district the size of Rhode Island, phones started ringing before dawn.

"We started getting reports at 5 a.m.," said Interim Superintendent John Raymond. "I came into town and drove my car around."

Roads around Lake Clear and Paul Smiths were very slick, he said.

"But we knew it was going to warm up."

Lake Placid schools closed.

"We were scheduled for a short day, so we couldn't delay," said School Superintendent Dr. Ernie Stretton. "Two hours (delay) would have left us near dismissal."

The narrow Wilmington Gap road between Lake Placid and Wilmington was dangerous under a coat of ice, along with most back roads traveled by school buses, Stretton said.

Village police in the Tri-Lakes area reported no accidents with the morning commute on ice.

But state highways were a different story.

"Leaving their driveways and on side streets, people are more cautious," said Saranac Lake Police Sgt. Bruce Nason.

"But getting on the highways, with a little more speed, State Police were busy."

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