I-70 on Vail Pass reopens after crash, spill | AspenTimes.com

I-70 on Vail Pass reopens after crash, spill

Edward Stoner
Vail Daily
Aspen, CO Colorado

Anna JanssonA semi truck sits at the top of the emergency truck ramp at above East Vail. The truck driver used the ramp after the truck's brakes failed and it reached speeds of 85 mph heading down the pass. It was carrying 15 330-gallon containers of a flammable chemical, all of which ruptured in the crash.

VAIL, Colo. – A semi truck carrying a flammable hazardous material spilled its load after using the runaway truck ramp on Vail Pass Sunday afternoon.

The incident closed westbound Interstate 70 for about seven hours.

The truck was hauling 4,950 gallons of a methanol-based mixture, and less than 100 gallons spilled into the Black Gore Creek, said Trooper Heather Cobler of the Colorado State Patrol.

Vail’s drinking water remains safe, said Eagle River Water and Sanitation District spokeswoman Diane Johnson.

The driver reportedly lost his brakes at mile marker 187, about three miles past the summit of Vail Pass, and called “mayday” on his CB radio, according to the town of Vail. He was unable to take the truck ramp at mile marker 186 because of heavy traffic in the right lane, and continued down the pass at speeds approaching 85 mph toward the lower truck ramp.

“He then reported almost missing that ramp due to traffic and managed to pull into the ramp at the last minute,” according to a town of Vail press release.

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The truck exited the interstate at mile marker 182, two miles east of East Vail, and traveled up the ramp at about 12:50 p.m. It did not roll over, but tipped enough to lose its 15 330-gallon storage containers, all of which were ruptured in the crash, officials said. Several of the containers rolled back down onto the interstate.

The Environmental Protection Agency and hazardous materials teams were on site assessing the spill and cleaning it up, Cobler said Sunday evening.

The driver of the truck was uninjured, and no other vehicles were involved in the incident, she said.

Motorists were redirected to Highway 91 and Highway 24. The westbound interstate reopened at about 8 p.m.

Water district officials were notified of the accident quickly and shut off wells that collect water for the town’s drinking system.

“Water is totally safe and was never in question,” she said.

She added that it was unclear if any hazardous material made it to local waterways, but the water district is operating as if it did.

Johnson said the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District’s water intakes will remain shut off in the Gore Creek and Eagle River below the spill until any risk of collecting unsafe water has passed.

In coming days, the district will test water above, at and below the spill to monitor its quality, she said.

estoner@vaildaily.com