By Jeff Todd
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (CBS4)– Air monitoring will continue following a yellow-orange cloud release from the Suncor plant in Commerce City. That cloud could be seen for miles Friday afternoon.
Officials tell CBS4 there was a power transmission interruption to the plant at noon. Following the power issue Suncor was shutting down the refinery to test operating systems and that’s when one of the units burned “catalyst dust.”
“Catalyst is part of the refining process, it’s clay like, so it’s a fine dust. Because the process was still happening there’s a little bit of hydrocarbon oil in the catalyst,” said Lisha Burnett, a spokeswoman for Suncor Energy.
The smoke could be seen for miles, Interstate 270 was shut down for a few hours, and nearby residents were told to stay indoors.
After hours of testing the air, it’s believed no dangerous chemicals were released from the refinery.
“We are comfortable there is no toxic material released. The monitors continue to show zero the entire time we monitored,” said Deputy Chief Dave Bierwiler with the South Adams County Fire Department.
Emergency crews from all over the North Denver metro area responded. Throughout the afternoon other agencies got involved in testing the air like Denver’s Department of Environmental Health and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Department of Environmental Health told CBS4 that its monitors found no signs of sulfur dioxide, as previously reported by some agencies, or Volatile Organic Compounds or VOC’s. Suncor Energy told the City of Denver it would share its own findings from air monitoring. South Adams County Fire Department also monitored the air.
“No, we don’t feel any toxic chemicals were released. I can tell you we live in this area so we’re just as concerned as the citizens are,” Bierwiler said.
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.