A semi truck carrying magnesium chloride tipped onto its side Wednesday morning on Coal Bank Pass between Durango and Silverton.
Magnesium chloride, which is a common deicer on area roads, was leaking on the highway. A hazmat team was headed to the location to assist, but the leak presented no danger to the public, said Capt. John Trentini with the Colorado State Patrol.
The driver suffered minor injuries, he said.
The crash was reported about 9:50 a.m. near mile marker 54, which is on the south side of Coal Bank Pass about 3 miles from the summit.
The truck tipped onto its side and was mostly off the highway. It was up against a mountain as opposed to over an embankment.
A tow company from Ouray was on scene about 2:45 p.m. and worked to upright the vehicle and remove it from the highway. Motorists were able to move past the crash via one-lane alternating traffic during recovery of the vehicle, said Lisa Schwantes, spokeswoman with the Colorado Department of Transportation.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife responded to the scene to perform a risk-assessment as it pertained to the leaking fluid, said Brian Devine, environmental health director with San Juan Basin Public Health.
Based on information relayed to SJBPH, the health department activated an interagency Animas River alert notification and response plan, “but that doesn’t imply that there is a real emergency,” Devine said. “Basically that's steps to confirm the severity of the issue.”
The health department is not recommending anyone close agricultural ditches or quit pulling water from the Animas River, he said. A number of factors went into that determination, including:
- The truck was carrying a diluted form of magnesium chloride.
- Not all of the magnesium chloride spilled into the environment; some remained in the tanker.
- The river is flowing at a high level because of spring runoff.
- The magnesium chloride didn’t spill directly into a waterway. Some probably went into the soil, a pond and a creek.
“What has been relayed to us is that that worst-case scenario certainly has been avoided,” Devine said.