Watching out after the West Creek spill
Environmental Protection Agency cautions outdoor enthusiasts
The January tanker spill on West Creek still is leaving marks.
This week, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Bureau of Land Management issued a caution to anglers and other recreationists using the waters of West Creek this spring and summer.
According to the EPA, even though the accident, which dumped 6,000 gallons of gasoline and 2,000 gallons of diesel into the creek, happened Jan. 25, visitors still may find a visible petrochemical sheen on the water.
“The bulk of the cleanup has been completed,” said Craig Myers, the EPA on-scene coordinator. “However, there is a high likelihood that fishermen or recreationists wading through the stream this spring and summer will notice that they are kicking up petroleum sheen from the sediments.
“This is expected given the nature of the spill.”
The spill happened along a narrow section of canyon about 10 miles north of Gateway. Both tanks of the tanker were torn open, and the contents were allowed to burn.
Reports at the scene say the ensuing fire scorched trees, brush and rocks for about a quarter-mile of the creek.
The EPA has issued guidelines to anyone using the affected section of West Creek and seeing any visible sheen on the water.
■ Sheen is expected to be seen along Colorado Highway 141 from milepost 120 through milepost 127.
■ Individuals wading through the creek and seeing petroleum sheen should notice it dissipating within 10 feet or less.
■ The sheen should stop releasing within three minutes after sediment disturbance has stopped.
■ If you find a place where the sheen is released beyond these conditions, call the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802 or file a report online at nrc.uscg.mil.
■ Note in your report it is related to the West Creek tanker spill.
Initial observations by Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists immediately after the spill reported the possibility of an extensive fish kill from the accident.
Friday, Parks and Wildlife spokesman Mike Porras said the investigation is continuing, and nothing has been determined.