Colorado Crews Handle Asphalt Tanker Wreck

Fort Collins, CO - At 9:37 a.m., Poudre Emergency Communications Center received a call of a motor vehicle crash approximately 5.5 miles west of Ted's Place in Poudre Canyon (Colorado Highway 14).

PECC updated information when units were en route that the wreck involved a semi-tractor trailer truck carrying a tanker with liquid asphalt. It had rolled into the Poudre River.

The first Poudre Fire Authority unit found the driver out of the vehicle. The tanker was westbound on the highway when the vehicle rolled down a bank into the river.

An estimated 5,000 of the 6,100 gal. tank was released. Liquid asphalt is approximately 312 degrees F. Also, 200-300 gal. of diesel from a punctured fuel tank was released into the river.

Emergency crews placed absorbent booms and pads downstream of the site in an attempt to contain the hazardous materials. A crane and tow truck were used to hoist the cab from the river at 3 p.m.

Emergency crews are continuing to stand by to assist and provide fire protection is necessary during removal of the tanker.

On Aug. 25, a similar incident occurred on Colorado Highway 14, also involving a tanker truck hauling liquid asphalt that rolled into the Poudre River, releasing its contents.

This wreck occurred at MM 114, three miles upriver. Environmental crews were just finishing clean-up from the first incident when the second incident occurred.

A representative of the US Environmental Protection Agency said almost all the asphalt and diesel fuel from today's incident were contained due to resources being nearby at the other incident.

He added that he expects no long-term effect to the river or aquatic life. The EPA will remain at the site for several days to remove the asphalt.

Kevin Gertig, from Fort Collins Utilities, said both Fort Collins and Greeley have sufficient water at this time. There is no danger of water shortage, and the quality has not been compromised.

John Morris, the driver, sustained minor injuries and was transported by Poudre Valley Hospital EMS.

While both tankers were carrying asphalt to the same road-construction project near Cameron Pass.

Highway 14 was closed from Ted's Place, west to the site of the incident (one mile east of Gateway Park).

Justin Smith of Larimer County Sheriffs Office said they will open the highway as soon as the tanker is removed. He said that until the quality of the water is deemed safe for recreational use, the river will be closed from mile marker 113 to mile marker 119.

To assist in cleaning up the Aug. 25 incident, water was released this morning from Joe Wright Reservoir into the Poudre River. Had that water arrived, it would have quadrupled the amount of water (CFS) running through second incident, greatly complicating operations.

However, North Poudre Irrigation Company was able to divert the flow through the Monroe Tunnel.