I-70 wreck near Eagle spills 7,000 gallons of diesel fuel
The Vail Daily
Aspen, CO Colorado
EAGLE, Colo. – An accident between an SUV and a tanker truck Thursday on Interstate 70 resulted in the largest chemical spill Eagle County has seen for years.
More than 7,000 gallons of diesel fuel leaked from a tanker truck when it was struck by an SUV trying to pass it just east of Eagle, police said. Both were headed west on I-70 at about 8:10 a.m.
The SUV, a 1997 Toyota 4-Runner driven by Ryan Palmer, of Vail, attempted to pass and clipped the front of the truck when Palmer pulled back into the right lane, according to police.
The truck, a 2010 Peterbilt driven by Mark Rusch, of Pueblo, rolled onto its right side and skidded down the right lane. When it finally stopped, the tanker was partially in the ditch and had a hole punched in it.
Palmer’s truck careened and rolled all the way across the median strip and stopped on the left lane of the eastbound lane of I-70, according to police.
It spilled 7,000 gallons of its 7,200-gallon load, said the Colorado State Patrol. The patrol’s hazardous materials unit was on the scene almost immediately, and most of the spill was contained in the median.
Palmer was cited for driving under the influence of drugs, careless driving, and failing to present evidence of insurance.
Neither Palmer nor Rusch were injured.
The cleanup and investigation closed I-70 for about five hours, with traffic being diverted down U.S. Highway 6.
The accident was cleared by 11 a.m. and the patrol reopened the right lane in both directions by 12:34 p.m., said Trooper Josh Lewis.
“Any time you have any type of hazmat spill, it’s important to get a cleanup crew working as quickly as possible,” Lewis said. “You’re looking at a significant spill.”
So far, it looks like it’s not a hazard to the Eagle River, Lewis said.
“Still, no matter where it is, it’s always dangerous to spill something like that.”
All four lanes reopened Thursday afternoon, but the Colorado Department of Transportation will close one lane in each direction beginning Friday morning, as cleanup crews from SWS Environmental Services and the state patrol remove the contaminated soil.
Crews will work through the weekend and early next week during daylight hours to begin cleanup, CDOT said.
Both lanes of the interstate will be open during the evenings since no cleanup efforts will be taking place at that time, CDOT said.
There is no estimate as to how long the cleanup process will take, CDOT said.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Under bluebird skies with 160 acres under their boots, hundreds of skiers and snowboarders took to Aspen Mountain for opening day Wednesday.