A truck hauling sludge from the Environmental Protection Agency’s water-treatment plant for the Gold King Mine went off the road Monday and crashed into Cement Creek.
Colorado State Patrol Capt. Adrian Driscoll said Monday afternoon a hazardous material team was en route. He did not have additional information on the crash.
EPA said in an emailed statement Monday the truck went off the shoulder of the road about one mile above the town of Silverton. The agency said an estimated 9 cubic yards of sludge entered the creek. That’s almost the amount of a full dump truck load.
EPA said the driver was uninjured. The EPA contracts Bonds Trucking out of Durango to haul the sludge.
The Silverton Standard & the Miner first reported about the crash.
The EPA just started on June 15 hauling sludge from the water treatment plant, about 10 miles north of Silverton in an area known as Gladstone, to a historic mine waste pile, called the Kittimac, along County Road 2.
The trip is 10 to 15 miles one way, but involves windy, mountainous dirt roads.
Three months after the EPA triggered the Gold King Mine spill in August 2015, the agency built a temporary water-treatment plant to treat mine waste discharges out of the mine.
The process, however, generates an estimated 4,600 cubic yards of sludge a year. The EPA announced earlier this year it was running out of room at Gladstone to store the sludge, forcing the need to haul it to Kittimac.
The EPA has said previously because of the treatment process at the plant, the sludge is not considered hazardous.
The EPA’s water treatment plant adds lime to the mine waste that flows out of the Gold King Mine to neutralize the pH level of the water and stabilize potentially toxic metals.
About 95 percent of the sludge is the lime treatment. The other five percent is potentially toxic metals like arsenic, lead, iron and aluminum.
The EPA said in its prepared statement it appears the truck’s fuel tank was not damaged.
This is a developing story. Please check back with www.durangoherald.com for updates.