Tanker crash spills crude oil into creek
Thousands of gallons of crude oil spilled near a creek off Colorado Highway 141 on Monday when a semi-trailer careened off the roadway, triggering responses from local, state and federal agencies.
The semi, including a tanker owned by Roosevelt, Utah-based Basin Western Inc., was headed north on Highway 141, approximately 10 miles north of Gateway, before crashing through a guardrail and rolling on its right side down an embankment, State Trooper Nate Reid said.
Speed was a likely factor in the crash and the driver faces a pending careless driving charge, Reid said. The driver wasn’t immediately identified.
The Grand Junction Fire Department’s hazardous materials team was initially called to the scene at 11:15 a.m., where it spent most of the day.
Crews estimated at least 7,000 gallons of crude had spilled, according to Fire Department spokesman Mike Page. The semi’s tanker had a capacity of some 10,000 gallons. How much of it seeped into West Creek, a waterway that feeds into the Dolores River, wasn’t clear.
“A lot of it was absorbed into the ground,” Page said.
Evidence of oil in the water was observed about one-eighth of a mile downstream from the accident site, Page said. Crews hoped to contain it with absorbent water booms, he said. Lloyd Dean, president of Basin Western Inc., said the crude was being hauled from a drilling operation in Bluff, Utah, which is near Blanding, and was headed for a pipeline in Rangely. The company trucks crude between the locations once or twice weekly, he said.
Fire officials said environmental consultants working for Basin Western responded to the scene. The Environmental Protection Agency had a representative still en route as of late afternoon, according to Richard Mylott, Denver EPA spokesman.
The driver suffered minor cuts during the crash and extricated himself from the wreck, according to radio reports.
Mike Hall, director of facilities at Gateway Canyons Resort, said they shut off pumps and closed a headgate as a precaution upon being notified soon after the crash of potential contamination to West Creek.
The resort pulls irrigation water from the creek, he said.