Clean-up efforts underway after chemical spill on Rabbit Ears Pass
Steamboat Springs — An estimated 42,000 pounds of the chemical triazine spilled from a tanker truck Wednesday after it rolled over on U.S. Highway 40 on Rabbit Ears Pass.
Clean-up efforts are ongoing.
The highway was closed for over seven hours after the crash, which was reported at 5:05 p.m.
Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Scott Elliott said the driver, Noland Hebert, 59, of Louisiana, sustained serious injuries in the crash that were not thought to be life-threatening. He was taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center and then flown to a hospital on the Front Range. The truck Hebert was driving was registered to Quest Liner, Inc., of Dubuque, Iowa.
What caused the tanker to crash was still unknown Friday.
A hazardous materials crew from the Colorado State Patrol arrived at about 9 p.m. to clean up the spilled chemical. Elliott said local, state, federal environmental and health agencies were notified about the spill.
Routt County Environmental Health Director Mike Zopf said a contractor was at the site Friday assessing the spill. A plan is being developed for clean up.
Triazine is used in pesticides and is flammable. It is considered a high health hazard, according to documents provided by Zopf. There are potentially health effects if people, fish or wildlife are exposed to the product.
The area where the chemical spilled is in the Harrison Creek drainage that feeds into Lake Catamount and the Yampa River.
With snow melting on the pass, there is some concern that the chemical could travel downstream.
“Any time you have impacts to ground and surface water, that’s a significant concern,” Zopf said.
He said there are a number of agencies involved in assessing the spill, including the U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Agencies and downstream users of the water are going to be taking water samples.
Zopf said there have been a number of spills on the pass over the years.
“I’m not aware of any impacts to Lake Catamount or the Yampa River from a spill on the pass,” Zopf said.
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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Things are normally pretty quiet around the base area of Steamboat Resort this time of year, but a lot has happened since the ski area closed following the 2020-21 season.