DENVER – Officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Colorado Parks and Wildlife said they are continuing to monitor several miles of North St. Vrain Creek for fish kill after a gasoline truck crashed and spilled thousands of gallons of fuel along the roadway and into the creek on Tuesday.
The crash happened around noon on Tuesday on Highway 36 near Blue Mountain Road, the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office. The road was closed into Wednesday morning before reopening for a period on Wednesday.
But the Colorado Department of Transportation said Wednesday afternoon that Highway 36 will be closed from dawn until dusk for several days moving forward as the EPA continues to clean up the spill. The closure will be at Apple Valley Road.
The EPA has also set up a website for the cleanup, which can be found by clicking here.
Valeriy Bizyayev, the federal on scene coordinator for the EPA, said Wednesday that officials currently know of four miles of the creek that saw fish kill because of the fuel spill last night.
He and CPW spokesperson Jason Clay said officials are asking anyone who lives near the creek or visits to report any did fish they see to CPW.
Bizyayev said environmental and wildlife officials believe that the fish kill was a one-time event and not “a continuous thing.” He said the rain that fell yesterday and through this morning was beneficial in flushing out and watering down some of the fuel.
“A lot of time when we have fuel spills like this, they can get stuck in the soil. ... It is kind of nice that we can get a flushing effect. The one thing with it being in the river, we are getting quite a bit of water washing over, which is helping move things through,” Bizyayev said.
EPA crews were putting in place more containment areas on the creek in the area where the fuel spilled into the creek. But Bizyayev said the bulk of the fuel was cleaned up Tuesday night.
Crews continue checking North Saint Vrain Creek after fuel from a crashed tanker contaminated the water yesterday pic.twitter.com/0DZrQOJvUO— Dalton Ross (@DaltonDenverCO) April 28, 2021
“So, we’ve got that under control. Right now, it’s just the cleanup and the remediation portion of it. The big cleanup of having product on-site is past us,” he said.
Officials notified people living and recreating downstream on Tuesday. The creek is a popular recreation area for fishing, hiking and swimming – especially in the warmer months.
Bizyayev said the EPA did water and soil sampling Tuesday night and were waiting for the data to come back. He said the agency would continue to monitor the water for further impacts and do remediation as they come along.
Neighbors who live nearby the site of the crash all say crashes are not uncommon in that area, where there is a sharp curve in the road after it was rebuilt following the 2013 floods.
Todd Jacobson describe the crash as “like a sonic boom.” He said he and another neighbor, Brandon Del Castillo, tried to help the fire department once crews arrived because the gasoline was spilling into the water.
He said his primary concern was his well, which he says is less than 100 feet deep.
“So, I’m kind of concerned about – especially people downstream – getting gasoline infiltration in their well water,” Jacobson said.
Del Castillo said he thought “a meteor hit the earth” when he heard the crash. He, Jacobson and others grabbed shovels to try to fill the nearby culvert before the gasoline could fill it, but they were told to leave the scene because the truck’s engine was still running while gasoline was pouring out.
“Just watching that fuel pour down into that culvert was gut-wrenching and we knew [there was gasoline],” he said. “I didn’t care. I wanted that to stop because I use this river a lot.”