COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (CBS4) – Firefighters responded to a hazardous materials incident in Commerce City on Friday afternoon that closed Brighton Boulevard.
It was earlier reported that Suncor released sulfur dioxide, a gas created by the burning of sulfur, into the air. Suncor disagreed with that and claimed it was a “catalyst dust” or clay-like substance with oil in it.
An unusually large amount of smoke was visible across the northern Denver metro area for a short time. It was coming from the smokestacks of the Suncor plant next to Highway 270 at approximately 12:30 p.m.
By 1 p.m. the smoke appeared to have returned to normal levels, but emergency crews closed the eastbound lanes of Highway 270 near the scene for unknown reasons. That highway closure ended after a few minutes.
At 2 p.m. Highway 265, or Brighton Boulevard, was closed in both directions from 56th Avenue to 60th Avenue because of nearby fire activity. There is no estimate on when the highway will reopen.
The refinery sounded the audible “All Clear” just after 6 p.m.
An employee at the plant told a CBS4 crew at the scene that the plant lost power.
Suncor confirmed the power failure at the refinery in Commerce City. The media spokesperson told CBS4 that the power failure resulted in an operational upset that released a visible emission. Crews continued to stabilize the plant following the power failure.
The Environmental Protection Agency says short-term exposure to sulfur dioxide can harm the human respiratory system and make breathing difficult, especially the young, the elderly and those with asthma.
Denver Fire Department tweeted out that they’re assisting Adams County with the incident.