Vail Fire responds to small gas spill in Gore Creek in West Vail
Eagle River Water & Sanitation District detected no changes in water quality downstream
On Tuesday, Feb. 14, the Vail Fire Department responded to a call concerning a hazmat spill in Gore Creek in West Vail’s Stephens Park.
The call came in yesterday afternoon from a resident who was walking their dog in the area and noticed a “sheen on the water” as well as an ”odor of gasoline” in a large eddy along the creek, according to Josh Hebrew with the Vail Fire Department.
Hebrew said that once on scene the department noticed the same sheen moving through the water and a “faint” smell of gas.
“It wasn’t really anything we were able to abate because of the moving current,” he said.
While the exact source of the gasoline is unknown, Hebrew said the agency had received a call around 1 p.m. from a gentleman who had a gas can fall off of his vehicle in the West Vail roundabout. According to the caller, the 10-gallon gas container was nearly empty and he was going to fill it and estimated that between one and two gallons spilled from the can.
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The department assumes the two incidents are related. And with this assumption, the gas would have made it to the creek via the roundabout’s stormwater management system that goes through to Gore Creek.
In this type of scenario, Hebrew said the department’s procedure is to notify downstream users, which in this case was the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District.
“When spills occur, we generally sample the river in that area. Depending on the size/threat of the spill, we may shut down intakes on the river (to let the ‘plume’ pass by) and we will monitor our processes for any abnormalities,” said Diane Johnson, the community and public affairs manager for the water and sanitation district.
In this case, the district’s next downstream intake is its drinking water facility in Avon, where no changes in water quality parameters were detected.
“Staff did not observe any changes in our total organic carbon monitors at the Avon facility. (TOC monitoring is one of many standard-monitoring parameters.) The drinking water treatment process includes scum collectors at the top of the sedimentation basins, which skim things from the top of the water. Staff did not observe anything floating at the top of those basins,” Johnson said.
Because of the small amount of gasoline, no further investigations or notifications were required. Hebrew said that with gasoline, the department is required to report spills over 55 gallons to the Environmental Protection Agency as well as some other agencies including the Coast Guard.