VAIL, Colo. (CBS4) – All lanes of westbound Interstate 70 reopened over Vail Pass Monday afternoon. It was closed while crews removed a truck that spilled hazardous chemicals after it lost control.
The driver bypassed one escape ramp because of heavy traffic. After reaching speeds over 80 miles per hour he was able to use the last runaway truck ramp just a few miles outside of Vail.
There’s still some concern over Vail’s drinking water because thousands of gallons of fuel had flowed into a creek that is the main source for Vail’s water supply. On Monday the water authority said they’re doing some testing but the water is okay to drink.
“Our very first action was just to shut down the intakes and so therefore the water that’s in the system is completely safe, not touched by any type of hazardous spill,” Diane Johnson with Eagle River Water & Sanitation District said.
Johnson said they will continue to test the water for a few more days and make sure there are not any harmful chemicals in it.
When the truck crashed Sunday afternoon it hit some rocks and turned onto its side, spilling nearly 5,000 gallons of methanol, which is a kind of fuel. It’s believed very little of the fuel made it into Black Gore Creek, but the Colorado State Patrol was concerned enough with the chemicals that they closed I-70 for about 7 hours Sunday.
The driver was cited for reckless driving and the trucking company will be responsible for the cleanup. A State Patrol sergeant said that the cleanup could take up to a few weeks.
Usually it takes about 20 minutes to get up and over Vail Pass. It took a CBS4 photojournalist 3 hours to get around on the detour Sunday night.
The State Patrol and the Environmental Protection Agency will oversee the cleanup. The trucking company has hired a professional cleaning company from Denver to make sure the methanol is handled properly.