Tanker filled with approximately 8,500 gallons of gasoline fuel rolled over near the Highway 36 parking/turnoff, next to the Apple Valley Road bridge and Blue Mountain Road, on April 27, 2021. Within two hours the road going north and south was completely closed to traffic, including the use of Apple Valley Road.
People downstream saw a lot of dead fish and “rainbow colors” in the stream. Liquid was seen running from the truck by witnesses, pooling on the parking area and in the ditch. The photo, which was taken an hour after the accident, shows the white solidifiers used for containment. The Boulder County HazMat crew was on the scene quickly to mitigate any fuel spill hazards. Residents from one mile down from the accident, all the way down to down to those by the Black Bear hole, reported that they could smell gasoline.
“A couple of bystanders and I tried to stop the fuel flow,” said Oskar Atkinson, X-Bar Communication, “digging with the ‘blade’ of a dolly. Became too dangerous as the tanker started to smolder. So I decided to better block the road higher up and at least keep the road clear for emergency vehicles and folks at a safe distance.”
This spot in the road was reworked after the Great Flood of 2013 so that it is further away from the possible destructive forces of the St. Vrain River. However, the curve in the road is now sharper and has been the scene of multiple accidents.
Lyons Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen sent out a message late in the day stating, “I talked with the EPA. They do not want us near the water or taking fish from the river. Do not stack fish on the banks. They may be eaten by other mammals in the area. Just leave them in the water so the fish and wildlife people can get a count.”
Unfortunately, it was too late as many residents went out and pulled fish from the water, partially in an effort to keep other wildlife from eating the contaminated fish. Most people discarded dead ones, and put live ones in the South St. Vrain River at the Confluence. Some conservationists said that it is a good thing that this happened during a time when the river was running fast and high, in order to keep the gasoline from settling. They also said that gasoline tends to remain on top of the water and evaporate into the air. It was also suggested that homeowners have the company who owns the truck pay for water tests for the coming few months.
The following information was provided by the Town of Lyons:
The EPA (the United States Environmental Protection Agency) will be here all week. They will be stationed in Lyons taking water samples at different locations to measure where the gasoline is dissipating. Colorado State Patrol, CDOT, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment as well as Boulder County HazMat crew have all been engaged and have been working to mitigate additional fuel spill hazards. The City of Longmont was notified immediately in regards to local drinking water. The local ponds in Lyons (near McConnell bridge) are fed by ground water and should not be impacted. Boulder County Sheriff’s Office is on scene and anticipates that the road will be closed for a while. There is a roadblock set up currently, with detour via Apple Valley Road.