Byers Canyon opens after tanker truck rollover closes road |

Byers Canyon opens after tanker truck rollover closes road

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
ALL | Sky-Hi Daily News

U.S. Highway 40 through Byers Canyon was re-opened Thursday afternoon after being closed most of the night and all morning as crews worked to clean up thousands of gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel that spilled from a tanker truck that rolled over.

Authorities re-opened the roadway through the canyon at 2:15 p.m. It had been closed since the accident blocked the highway the previous night.

The rollover accident was reported at 11:23 p.m. Wednesday. Emergency personnel arrived on scene four minutes later to find a tanker truck on its side blocking both lanes of the highway through Byers Canyon.

The 44-year-old man who was driving the tanker truck was injured, reportedly suffering head and back injuries. A Grand County EMS ambulance quickly arrived and the victim was transported to the Granby Medical Center then later flown by Flight For Life helicopter to St. Anthony’s Central Hospital in Denver.

According to Trooper Gilbert Mares, public information officer for the Colorado State Patrol, the truck driver is reported to be in “moderate condition.”

The tanker truck was carrying a total of 8,500 gallons of fuel including 7,000 gallons of E85 unleaded gasoline and 1,500 gallons of diesel fuel. Mares said an estimated 5,000 gallons of both gasoline and diesel fuel had spilled.

The Colorado River runs through Byers Canyon, but apparently none of the spilled fuel reached it.

“We do not believe that any has gone into the river,” Trooper Mares said.

Two HAZMAT technicians from the Colorado State Patrol were at the crash site Thursday morning to supervise the cleanup being performed by a commercial HAZMAT company.

Although none of the spilled fuel reportedly reached the Colorado River, the local office of the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW), which is located at the western edge of Byers Canyon, began monitoring the river about 1:30 a.m. Thursday.

According to Randy Hampton, DOW’s Northwest region spokesman, most of the spilled fuel apparently was absorbed into the ground along the highway.

“But based on the rock and soil conditions in Byers Canyon, there is concern that some of the fuel may leach into the river,” Hampton said. “We are responding with a couple of wildlife officers and aquatic biologists who will be monitoring the river downstream of the spill.”

While U.S. Highway 40 was closed through Byers Canyon, traffic between Hot Sulphur Springs and Parshall was detoured over Parshall Divide on a dirt road. Grand County Sheriff’s deputies shepherded traffic over the divide using a “pilot car” to lead a group of vehicles over in one direction before turning around to lead the next group of cars over the road in the opposite direction.

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