A Maple Syrup Spill Slowed Traffic in Vermont

An exit on I-91 had to be shuttered briefly on Monday when a drum of syrup clattered onto the road.

Pancake folded stack of with liquid honey on wooden background.selective focus.

Photo via iStock.com/lily_rochha

Drivers on I-91 in the upper reaches of Vermont had a little bit of traffic trouble late Monday afternoon, and for an extremely Vermont reason: a maple syrup spill.

Officials say that around 4:20 p.m., a 42-gallon drum of syrup loosed itself from a pickup truck taking exit 27 toward the city of Newport, just south of the Canadian border, and dumped part of its contents on the road.

The off-ramp was closed to traffic for a while as first responders arrived to clean it up, they say. A tweet informing drivers about the incident was shared widely Monday night.

Some commenters made references to the movie Super Troopers, which chronicles the shenanigans of a fictional group of syrup-chugging Vermont staties.

Others expressed their dismay at so much of the sugary topping going to waste.

But those who pictured a catastrophic syrup incident on a Vermont highway are likely to be disappointed by the truth.

Crews had the whole thing cleaned up in about 20 minutes, says Jason Gosselin, operations manager and logistics chief for Vermont Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

“They brought some sand over, put some sand on the maple syrup, and scooped it up and disposed of it,” he says in an interview, adding that most of it ended up in the snow at the side of the road (which, under different circumstances, would make it a tasty delicacy). “It’s a nonhazardous material, so there was no hazardous impact.”

Officials weren’t always sure that was the case. When the first call came in about the spill—from a woman who saw the barrel come loose while driving by—emergency crews feared the drum might contain dangerous chemicals.

But it was just syrup.

“We like it when it’s something simple like that and not hazardous,” says Newport Fire Chief Jamie LeClair. “The biggest part was picking up the drum. It was still pretty heavy with the syrup in it.”

LeClair says he believes the man who dropped the barrel was a hobbyist, and he believes the syrup was for personal use. It’s too bad to see someone lose so much perfectly good syrup, he says.

“It’s depressing,” LeClair says. “Maple syrup is good. It’s a commodity. But it’s nothing major.”

As for the impact on the road, he says: “A couple dozen pancakes could have absorbed it.”