It's grape harvest season in North East.  There's so many stories I could do.  I could do a story on grape picking, grape products, grape stomping.  But no.  I'm going to focus on something else.  I'm going to do a story about trucks.

It's very likely that a tank truck that cruises down the interstate in this area is loaded with grape juice or grape juice concentrate. Many of the grapes grown in this area will be crushed into that wet purple substance and then shipped by a truck.  After every load, the inside of the tank must be washed.  That's where Route 20 Tank Wash comes in.  Mike Chapman is the operations manager.

"It's pretty constant year 'round,” he says. “Grape juice is stored here in North East and they haul it year 'round. This time of year is a little busier. Harvest season.  They need to move it to different places.  So we get guys that washout sometimes every 24 hours."

The main focus at the tank wash is the safety of the product that will be carried on the next load.  Everyone must wear a hair net before walking into the two wash bays that are designated for tankers that haul food grade products.  You must wear a net over a beard. 

The process of washing a truck tank is kind of like how a dishwasher washes dishes.  However, this is a high pressure wash.

"There's a spinner that's on the end of a long wand that goes in there and it circulates.  In a 20-minute period, we cover every inch of that trailer,” says Mike.

Let's get back to the subject of safety. When the water is released from the tank, it goes through a filter. If any object is found in that filter, the washing process must begin again. The tank wash must follow very strict safety rules. The rules are even more stringent if the tank truck hauls kosher food products. Data from the entire wash is recorded and sent to a rabbi.

"We make sure every wash is done accordingly the way they want it.  We record it and everything gets sent off to the Orthodox Union for their approval before it can leave here,” says Mike.

Kosher or not kosher, every tank that's washed at the facility must go through 20 different safety checks.  Every tank is sealed after the work is done.  That seal cannot be broken until the truck arrives for its next load. If the truck does not have a load in 72 hours, the tank must be washed again. 

Safety.  Safety.  Safety.  That's good to know.

The Route 20 Tank Wash was opened in 2019 by Barnhart Trucking. It's the only tank wash for food grade products in a 150 mile radius. The tank wash also has a bay to handle tanks that haul substances such as motor oil, latex, and farm fertilizers.  It also has a lounge so truckers can eat, relax, do laundry, and take a shower while their tank truck is being washed.