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Clean-up of I-80 hazmat spill wrapping up; Rail Trail to re-open Wednesday

Rail trail.jpg
Summit County
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Hazmat spill on the Rail Trail April 18, 2022

Two weeks ago, a semi-truck rollover on I-80 near the Tollgate exit leaked a hazardous material onto the highway, the Rail Trail, and Silver Creek.  A 100-yard section of the Rail Trail has been closed since then.

Clean-up crews are working on soil excavation and removal around Silver Creek. Summit County Communications Director Derek Siddoway said they’re about halfway finished removing the contaminated soil. He said it’s a difficult location to reach with the equipment needed.

"Right now, the cleanup crews are digging next to the creek working on the soil excavation. They're only digging about a foot and a half up, so the peroxide did not get very deep into the ground, but as I said before, just the location is posing some challenges.”

The accident occurred April 18 when a truck rolled over, spilled organic peroxide onto the highway, and caught fire. Some of the peroxide that spilled seeped into a storm drain and onto the Union Pacific Rail Trail recreational corridor. The county hazmat team said there is no danger from the material. But Siddoway noted that even in small quantities, organic peroxide is an irritant.

“There was some concern and danger right after the spill--one because the semi caught on fire. So, there were fumes coming off from the peroxide as it burned. Those fumes were a danger. And then after that, when it was in the water the next day, it was off-gassing, meaning that those fumes were still active. And at that time, that was another reason we had that section of the rail trail closed.”   

The Summit County Environmental Health Team has been testing water and soil throughout the cleanup. At first, the team was concerned about impacts on fish, wildlife, pets, farm animals, and humans. Siddoway said the peroxide is water-soluble and dissolves, so it is no longer a safety or environmental concern.

“Not too long after the spill occurred, when the wreck occurred, we were able to get booms and dams in place. And the way these booms work is that they allow the water to pass through, but they catch the substance as it's coming through. [I] do not believe that there has been any severe impact or any real impact to wildlife either drinking or living in the water.”

Siddoway said he did not know the clean-up cost but said all expenses would be charged to the trucking company’s insurance. The county will work with all agencies to ensure the area is returned to its original condition. Siddoway said he anticipated re-opening the 100-yard section of the Rail Trail Wednesday morning.