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EPA, Fremont County respond to Canon City oil spill

Release Date: 5/9/2005
Contact Information:

      May 9, Denver, noon MST -- Update on EPA's response to the Fremont Paving Oil Spill near Canon City, Colo.

      The Environmental Protection Agency, working with Fremont Paving and teams of federal, state and local responders, has contained and cleaned up the bulk of the oil that spilled into ditches and drainages along the Arkansas River last Wednesday. Impacts to the Arkansas River itself were minimal, and the affected ditches and canals are expected to be restored and supplying water within the next few days.

      EPA estimates that more than 50,000 gallons of oil-water mix, including approximately 4,000 gallons of recovered oil, have been cleaned up and disposed of since last Thursday. The final phase of cleanup activities to remove oil from difficult to reach spots, excavate affected soils and construct culverts and booms to contain and clean any remnants from the spill are now underway. EPA and local authorities will continue working at the scene during the next few weeks. An investigation into the cause of the spill is underway.

      For more information, contact Ted Linnert at 303 312-6119.

      May 6, Denver, 11 a.m. MST -- The Environmental Protection Agency and Fremont County are continuing to respond to an oil spill that occurred Wednesday southeast of Canon City, Colo.

      Fremont County Emergency Management Director Ray Southard said the spill of heavy waste oil originated from the yard of Fremont Paving and Ary Brothers Trucking just west of MacKenzie Avenue. On Thursday, local officials determined that oil had reached the Arkansas River and notified EPA and downstream water users. While company officials initially estimated that hundreds of gallons of oil migrated from the site, EPA and local officials investigating the scene now believe that the spill involved several thousand gallons.

      EPA on-scene coordinators and response teams are working closely with Fremont County, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment and other federal agencies to determine the extent of contamination and to clean up and contain the spill. As of Friday, five evaluation teams have been deployed and extensive work has been done to contain and remove oil at several locations. Impacted areas include various irrigation and water supply ditches and creek drainages between Canon City and Florence, including the Minnequa Canal, the Florence Flood Irrigation system, the Chandler Creek drainage, the Fawn Hollow drainage and the Oak Creek drainage. The affected ditches have been shut off, and nearby public water systems are using alternative sources of water.

      At this time, it is not known how much oil reached the Arkansas River. Response teams are investigating the river using aerial reconnaissance to locate any oil downstream of the spill. Additional responders from the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are also on site today.

      EPA and Fremont County have established a Joint Information Center in Florence to provide current information on response activities. The JIC phone number is 719.784.4848 x 228. EPA will release additional information as it becomes available.