Chemical spill clean-up complete on Rabbit Ears Pass

Matt Stensland
An excavator works to clean up a chemical spill March 17 along U.S. Highway 40 on Rabbit Ears Pass.
Matt Stensland

— Work to clean up spilled chemicals on Rabbit Ears Pass has been completed.

In total, 5,880 tons of soil was removed from the area by Custom Environmental Services and disposed of at the Twin Enviro landfill in Milner. Another 7,004 tons of clean soil was brought in to backfill and regrade the spill site and stockpile areas. 124,840 gallons of water was transported to the Colorado Liquid Waste Disposal Facility in Elk Springs. Several hundred bales of WoodStraw from Steamboat-based Mountain Pine Manufacturing were used for erosion control and re-vegetation.

“All site work has been completed,” ARCADIS spokeswoman Debra Havins said.

ARCADIS was hired to conduct water quality and soil sampling and to communicate information to local and state officials.

It was believed the environmental impact was minimal.

Routt County Environmental Health Director Mike Zopf said chemicals had been detected downstream of the spill site, but the chemicals were biodegradable.

ARCADIS is finalizing its report and expected the report to be available to the public in the coming weeks.

The spill occurred March 12 when a tanker truck crashed and rolled while coming down U.S. Highway 40 on Rabbit Ears Pass. Between 5,000 and 5,500 gallons of triazine and methanol were spilled. The chemicals are used in the fracking process of oil and gas operations to neutralize hydrogen sulfides.

The trucking company was responsible for cleaning up the spill with oversight from local, state and federal officials.

“Routt County is very pleased with the cleanup effort,” Zopf said.

ARCADIS is working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to sample monitoring sites quarterly. During the clean-up, the samples were taken daily.

The driver of the tanker truck sustained serious injuries in the crash and was flown to a hospital on the Front Range. Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Scott Elliott said Thursday the driver spent more than a month at Denver’s Craig Hospital for rehabilitation and is now back home in Louisiana.

Elliott said the cause of the crash was still under investigation, and the driver has not been cited.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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