A thousand gallons of mag chloride spill atop Vail Pass | VailDaily.com

A thousand gallons of mag chloride spill atop Vail Pass

Cliff Thompson

A fitting on the 20,000-gallon tank containing 6,000 gallons broke when a truck was being refilled with the de-icer. The liquid spilled onto the maintenance yard; a portion was caught by a containment pond built last year.

Crews were able to keep the salty de-icer from reaching Black Gore Creek, however, by spreading sand on it. The salted sand was scooped up and put back into storage, to be used again on the road.

“Nothing got off the property,” said Chuck Loerwald, maintenance superintendent with the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Loerwald said the tank will be moved inside the sand shed this week, as had been planned earlier, to protect it from the elements and provide additional containment should another spill happen.

The Eagle River Water and Sanitation District sampled water in the creek and was not able to detect the de-icer, said Steve Wilson.

The district, the town of Vail and CDOT built the containment pond last year to catch traction sand before it washes into the creek.

Decades of sand use have begun to choke Black Gore Creek. Ironically the liquid de-icer has replaced a portion of the sand used on the pass. It works by lowering the freezing temperature of water, making it tougher for ice to form on the roadway.

At the time of the spill, an ice storm had slicked up Vail Pass causing two vehicle pileups that closed both lanes of the highway for six hours.

A hazardous materials team was called to the accident scene to contain fuel and other spills.

Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555 ext 450 or cthompson@vaildaily.com

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