I-70 gas spill cleanup to continue through May
COPPER MOUNTAIN – The cleanup of a gasoline spill on Interstate 70 has been slowed by runoff from the snowstorm that preceded the accident that caused the spill.
LMH Environmental, a hazardous materials cleanup company, has contained the nearly 1,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline that spilled on I-70 just west of Copper Mountain April 24. But excavation of the ground into which the fuel seeped will have to wait for water flow onto the highway median to subside, said LMH geologist Ray Mulgrew.
“We’ll be excavating in the median, which is (Colorado Department of Transportation) property,” Mulgrew said. “It has a lot of water running in it right now. If we dig, our fear is it could push the fuel down further.”
The accident occurred when a Petroleum Transportation tanker driver lost control en route to Gypsum. A tank compartment ruptured when the truck rolled down the embankment between the interstate lanes. Mulgrew estimated between 950 and 1,000 gallons of the 8,000-gallon load leaked.
Mulgrew said, fortunately, the snow runoff prevented most of the gasoline from filtering down to Copper Mountain water supplies because fuel is less dense than water and floats. Copper Mountain Consolidated Metro District draws its water from wells in the area.
Absorbent “booms” and pads are in place to contain the fuel and will remain until the week of May 12, when Mulgrew said he expects work to resume. In the meantime, he said, an LMH employee will inspect the containment setup daily. LMH employees also covered ducts and culverts CDOT installed for drainage.
Once excavation is complete, crews will conduct soil and water samples in the valley to determine if any fuel contamination is present.
Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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