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CPW says 'significant' fish kill in N. St. Vrain Creek after spill; EPA says fuel has dissipated

Posted at 5:07 PM, Apr 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-29 19:07:28-04

DENVER – Initial water sample analysis done by the Environmental Protection Agency on North St. Vrain Creek show the gasoline that spilled into the creek after a fuel truck crashed earlier this week has dissipated, but Colorado Parks and Wildlife says there was a “significant” fish kill event caused by the spill.

The EPA said Thursday that water samples collected Tuesday following the crash both below and above the crash site for compounds that occur in gasoline — including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene (commonly referred to as BTEX chemicals) as well as gasoline-range organics (GRO) — showed BTEX measurements were below EPA drinking water standards.

The agency said that GRO measurements were “slightly above” the limit near the site of the accident but not further downstream.

“These data suggest the pulse of gasoline that was discharged to the creek has dissipated and there is no indication of a lingering water quality impact to the North St. Vrain Creek,” the EPA said in a statement, adding that results would likely be coming in later Thursday on more sampling that was conducted on Wednesday. More information on the sampling can be found here.

The EPA said cleanup crews for the trucking company, along with other agencies, have started removing soil from the crash site and said cleanup would continue through the end of the week.

Jason Clay, the spokesperson for CPW, said Thursday afternoon that the fish kill was a “significant event” but that officials do not yet fully know how many fish were lost in the fuel spill.

“It will take our crews some time to complete the investigation assessing the overall damages. Thus far we’ve documented brook trout, brown trout and rainbow trout. There likely was other fish species lost in this event, and we are collecting more samples from people that have submitted them and from our own gatherings,” Clay said in an email.

He said the full scope of the fish kill would likely not be known until at least later this year, when CPW aquatic biologists conduct their annual fish population survey on the creek.

Non-trout species that also live in the creek include white and longnose suckers and longnose dace, Clay said.

CPW has received fish-kill information from around a half-dozen people in Lyons that contained high-quality location and timing information, Clay said. But the agency is still looking for more photos, videos or collected dead fish. People who have that information can click here to email CPW and submit that information.

The EPA said it believes the truck spilled between 500 and 1,000 gallons of gasoline at the site out of an 8,000-gallon load. The agency said it is unclear how much of the fuel entered the creek.

The EPA said its preliminary sampling results did not find contamination in drinking wells along the creek down toward the intersection of Highway 36 and Highway 66.