Wastewater that spilled in Albany County on Tuesday does not pose a threat to fish, wildlife or humans, according to a preliminary assessment from the Wyoming Highway Patrol.
A semitrailer crashed just before 5 p.m. Tuesday about 3 miles south of Woods Landing on Wyoming Highway 230. The unidentified driver sustained injuries, but Jeremy Beck of the WHP said he didn’t have information about the condition of the driver or where he was transported.
It’s also not clear what caused the commercial truck transporting wastewater, which Beck said was “reclaimed water,” to crash, though it’s under investigation. The smell of gas hung in the air Wednesday at the mangled guard rail along the south side of the highway where the crash occurred. Running along that side of the highway is Woods Creek, which flows into the Laramie River.
Beck said 120 barrels of wastewater water spilled when the truck crashed. Diesel fuel also spilled, but Beck said it was concentrated on the side of the highway opposite the creek.
Reclaimed water refers to municipal wastewater that has been treated to meet specific water quality criteria with the intent of being used for a range of purposes, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The term recycled water is synonymous with reclaimed water. The wastewater being transported Tuesday was not classified as hazardous, Beck said. The initial reading of the situation by the WHP, Beck said, is that the spilled fluids do not pose an environmental threat.
The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality did not respond to requests for comment.
No information was available about where the truck came from or where it was heading as of the filing of this report. The preliminary information provided by the WHP identified the commercial truck involved in the crash as belonging to 247 Quality Service Trucking, LLC, registered in Rifle, Colorado, near Grand Junction. A person answered the phone when a Boomerang reporter called the number listed for the company, but hung up after a few seconds.
Sue Spencer, a hydrogeologist, owns the Woods Landing Resort on Highway 230 with her husband Bill Sheehan near the crash site.
The amount of fluid spilled Tuesday doesn’t leave Spencer worried about the safety of the area’s water supply, she said. But Spencer said she and her neighbors have grown concerned in the last couple of years about the volume of truck traffic coming and going from industrial sites along the narrow stretch of rural highway. Many trucks, locals believe, are coming from a large number of oil and gas fields surrounding nearby Walden, Colorado. Given the context, seeing a truck spill an unknown liquid into the ground and water supply was disconcerting, Spencer said.
“The thing that bothers me is that no one knows what’s in those tankers,” Spencer said.
Rob Miller, who lives nearby along Wyoming Highway 10, said he has observed trucks not following the rules of the road in the area.
“They’re consistently going way beyond the speed limit,” Miller said.
Tuesday’s crash seemed to be something of a manifestation of nearby residents’ fears.
“This is the kind of thing that’s going to happen more and more given the volume of trucks,” Spencer said. “This road doesn’t seem suitable for that kind of activity.”