Tanker accident closes Highway 40

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A tanker truck carrying 4,000 gallons of aluminum sulfate rolled just east of Rabbit Ears Pass, causing traffic from Kremmling to Steamboat Springs to be rerouted for much of Monday.

At about 9 a.m. Monday, a truck heading west on U.S. Highway 40 went off the right side of the road about two miles east of the Walden exit, Colorado State Patrol Cpl. Jack Desanti said. The tanker rolled onto its right side. The driver, Albert Lara, 41, of Littleton, was not injured, and none of the chemicals spilled, Desanti said.

The accident shut down that section of the road in both directions from 9 a.m. until late Monday night, when the wreckage was cleared. Those traveling between Steamboat Springs and Kremmling were rerouted onto Colorado highways 131 and 134. Those going from Steamboat to Walden on Colorado Highway 14 could go over Rabbit Ears Pass. The state patrol had roadblocks set up on U.S. 40 at the intersections of Colorado highways 131, 134 and 14, Desanti said.

The state patrol closed the road where the accident occurred for fear of any chemical contamination from the tanker, Desanti said. Aluminum sulfate is a chemical used for purifying water, and the truck was on its way to Craig for the municipal water treatment plant.

"Any time you have a large amount of any chemicals, you take a lot of precaution," Desanti said. "You don't want a lot of any one chemical being dispersed in any one area."

The Colorado State Patrol had to first wait for its hazardous materials team to arrive from Golden. After Haz-Mat officials investigated the scene, it took more time to upright the tanker and tow the wreckage away.

Desanti said they are investigating what caused the accident. He noted the roads were icy and snow-packed at the time. Lara was driving for Ruan Transporting Corp. of Des Moines, Iowa.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229 or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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