Crews work in Colorado River where tanker spill occurred |

Crews work in Colorado River where tanker spill occurred

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

Cleanup crews are still at work in Byers Canyon where wildlife officials are concerned the spilled gasoline and diesel fuel from last week’s accident could get into the Colorado River.

Late Wednesday night, June 11, a tanker truck traveling on U.S. Highway 40 rolled over about midway through the canyon. It was reportedly carrying 8,500 gallons of fuel including 7,000 gallons of E85 unleaded gasoline and 1,500 gallons of diesel fuel.

An estimated total of 5,000 gallons of fuel, some gasoline and some diesel, spilled. Although some of the fuel flowed down the slope below the highway, apparently none of it flowed directly into the Colorado River.

Although no fuel immediately reached the river, officials are concerned some of the gasoline and diesel that was absorbed into the soil may leach through the ground to the river.

Since the early morning of June 12, the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) has had aquatic biologists and other wildlife officers monitoring the river downstream from the spill site.

“We have found no evidence of fish kill below the site,” said Randy Hampton, DOW’s Northwest Region spokesman. “Our concern is that the fuel will leach through the soil. The soil will absorb it for a while, but eventually it will leach out.”

Hampton said that DOW will continue to monitor downstream of spill site “until the remediation is done.”

According to the Colorado State Patrol’s Public Information Office, the company that was transporting the fuel is responsible for cleanup of the spill.

The overturned truck bore the logo of Solar Transport, whose company headquarters are in West Des Moines, Iowa. Phone calls to that company on Thursday were not returned.

A commercial HAZMAT company has reportedly been hired to conduct the cleanup. Belfor Environmental Inc. personnel and vehicles have been at the accident site this week. That company’s office in Denver was contacted, but they refused to comment on the Byers Canyon spill or name their “client.”

However, the Belfor Environmental crew at the site this week appears to be working on containing and cleaning up fuel that has reached the river.

The crews have placed “containment booms” along the edge of the river and are using absorbent pads to soak up material on the surface of the water within the booms.

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