Poudre River: Four mile stretch of river closed due to asphalt spill

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From The Greeley Tribune:

That portion of the river could be closed for up to two weeks while National Forest Service crews take water samples and clean up the spill, said John Bustos, a spokesman for the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grasslands…

The long-term effects of the spill are undetermined, Bustos said. National Forest Service crews have been in the area for the past two days taking water samples and starting the cleanup process. Water sample results should be available today.

More coverage from the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is urging the public to keep away from the asphalt tar spill in the Poudre River near the Greyrock trailhead. The spill occurred Wednesday morning when a commercial tanker driven by Kenneth Gale, 52, careened into the Poudre River and spilled 5,000 gallons of asphalt tar into the river. The truck was operated by Malpaso, a Wyoming-based trucking company, and was on its way to a paving project on Colorado Highway 14 in the upper Poudre Canyon near Cameron Pass, said Craig Myers, on-scene coordinator for the EPA’s emergency response unit based in Denver.

More about the cleanup methodology from the Fort Collins Coloradoan:

EPA contractors will be using a crane to lift out large sections of asphalt from the Poudre River as workers continue cleaning up a 5,000-gallon spill. The crane will be parked in a pulloff, not in the river, said Peggy Linn, a Denver-based EPA community involvement coordinator. “We’re doing everything we can to cause a minimal amount of impact to the river and the surrounding area,” Linn said. The EPA has asked people to stay away from the area during the cleanup. The river is closed to recreational use from mile-marker 113 through mile marker 117.

Update: More on the cleanup from the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Trevor Hughes):

Members of a Belfour crew working under the EPA’s direction Friday were attacking the edges of the largest-single patch of asphalt, just downstream of where a commercial tanker driven by Kenneth Gale, 52, careened into the river Wednesday. Gale has been cited for careless driving; he crashed through a steel barrier and down the riverbank, spilling his load. There are about 10 similar patches…

Myers said water managers and users have agreed to lower the river’s flow for the next week to make it safer for Belfor contractors to work in the water. He said the majority of the cleanup may be finished within a week, as it’s moving faster than originally anticipated. Belfor workers Thursday tried sawing at the asphalt but have moved on to axes, which are more effective. “If the rocks were wet and cool when it hit them, it just peels right off,” Myers said. “I think we maybe lucked out a little bit.”[…]

EPA officials on Friday afternoon were still awaiting the results of water-quality tests. Myers said it’s likely the results will show little additional contamination of the water downstream from the spill. He said asphalt and other containments already wash into the river from the adjacent Colorado Highway 14 whenever it rains. As a precaution, the cities of Fort Collins and Greeley shut down their nearby drinking-water intakes, fearing the asphalt could clog intakes or contaminate their supplies.

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