Up to 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel spills into Clear Creek Saturday
summit daily news
Crews have been working since minutes after the 9 a.m. diesel spill Saturday near Loveland Ski Area to clean up the site.
When a trucker took a hairpin curve too fast, his rig tipped and spilled what’s now estimated to be 2,500-3,000 gallons of fuel into Clear Creek. Initially, it was believed to be closer to 4,000 gallons that spilled.
“We got there very, very quickly because we were working the (USA Pro Cycling Challenge) bike race,” Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Adrian Driscoll said. “We were there within 20 minutes. We were able to save about 5,000 gallons of fuel.”
Response teams had a truck on site quickly to pump the overturned truck’s remaining load into a contained unit. The Georgetown and Clear Creek fire crews were on site, as were deputies from the Clear Creek Sheriff’s Office, the Environmental Protection Agency, Colorado State Patrol hazardous materials and accident investigation.
BELFOR Property Restoration has since taken over the remediation work, which involves on-site residue and downstream effects. The Colorado Department of Health is overseeing the project and will sign off on it when complete. The remediation bill will be footed by the trucking company.
“The goal is to restore (Clear Creek) to its natural state,” Driscoll said, adding that it will likely be a few weeks before the spill is fully mitigated. Other spills atop Loveland Pass are still being monitored 10 years after the accident, he said.
“It was a bad spill, but it could have been worse,” he said.
Nonetheless, dead fish are floating along Clear Creek, affected by displaced oxygen sources. A fisherman fishing downstream from the spill Saturday pulled up handfuls of dead or dying insects from the creek, according to 9News.com.
“It makes it difficult (for fish) to breathe,” Driscoll said, adding that all spills have the same effect – a milk truck would do much the same. The effects shouldn’t be permanent, he said.
Drinking water shouldn’t be affected, Driscoll said, because water treatment plants can clean fuel from water. It’s not recommended to wade in Clear Creek immediately downstream of the spill, though the consequences of diesel are far less than oil, Driscoll said.
It’s easier to remedy a diesel spill because diesel is less viscous than oil, Driscoll said. It floats on the surface and was vacuumed up at the spill site. Crews also built a retaining pond for most of the spilled fuel, and deployed booms to soak up downstream diesel.
After remediation is complete, CSP and the EPA will continue to monitor the site because it’s on national forest land.
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