Tanker rolls over, spills diesel fuel into Clear Creek

6:14 PM, Aug 27, 2011   |    comments
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State Troopers say just before 9 a.m. Saturday, a semi truck was turning too fast on a highway curve. It tipped over and spilled an estimated 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel, much of it going right into Clear Creek.

It's a popular area for fishing and recreation.

"It's a great place to get away. It's a little hidden treasure. And to see it coated in oil is just heartbreaking," James Wallach said.

The semi was hauling a tanker trailer filled with 7,000 gallons of dyed diesel fuel designated for agriculture.

"It's disappointing to see this amount spilled in such a beautiful area," Trooper Greg Manning said.

James was fishing just two miles downstream from the spill.

"I started to smell something weird but the smell just got stronger and stronger and I realized it was diesel. Then the water turned to a milky color," Wallach said. 

Wallach says the fuel almost immediately affected the wildlife.

"You shouldn't be able to just walk up and grab a wild fish. On any normal day a fish would be flopping all over my hand. They're skittish. But he's barely able to breathe. He's suffocating in his own water," Wallach said, as he held a fish in his hand.

And it's not just the fish. James put his hand in the water and brought up half a dozen bugs either already dead or dying.

"It's a tough thing to see. I think with a little more care it could have been prevented," Manning said. 

Manning says the damage has been done. He just hopes the damage isn't permanent.

"We'll find out next year what happens, hopefully some will survive," he said.

9NEWS contacted the EPA Saturday but representatives would not comment.

A biologist with Colorado Parks and Wildlife says diesel is more forgiving than oil and much of the fuel had burned off by late Saturday afternoon.

The truck driver was the only person in the vehicle. Troopers say he sustained minor injuries and was not transported to the hospital.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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