Officials investigate concerns of water contamination from Steamboat hotel

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— A Routt County Department of Environmental Health official has investigated claims that polluted water was being pumped into the Yampa River from the crawl space of a Steamboat Springs hotel.

Routt County environmental health specialist Jason Striker said Wednesday that while paint cans and other items should not have been stored in the hotel’s crawl space, he doesn’t think contaminated water made it to the river.

The paint cans and other items being stored in the flooded crawl space have been removed since. Striker said the owners of the Hampton Inn & Suites have been cooperative during the investigation.

“The unopened paint containers that were located in the crawl space have been removed, and we are committed to completing any other recommendations officials may have,” hotel manager Diane White said Wednesday. “The hotel is taking all precautions necessary to ensure the safety and comfort of our guests and employees and has fully cooperated with officials.”

On Tuesday, a video (scroll down to view the video) was posted on YouTube by Zak Ryan, a maintenance worker at the hotel who had been tasked with fixing broken sump pumps in the crawl space. Ryan said he initially posted the video so he could show it to Striker and the Department of Environmental Health. Ryan said he was concerned the hotel was not addressing the problem, and it posed an environmental hazard.

“It was the right thing to do,” Ryan said Wednesday. “I’m probably going to lose my job because of it.”

The 11 minute, 30 second video offers a tour of the flooded crawl space and narration from Ryan. He expresses concerns about items such as paint cans that were being stored in the crawl space, and that the water was being contaminated. Ryan states his belief that the crawl space water was being pumped into an outside ditch, where it then was going into the river.

When the sump pumps are working, Striker said they actually are pumping the water into a dry well outside the hotel, and water filters back into the ground. The crawl space is equipped with sump pumps to handle spring runoff.

To repair the broken sump pumps, Striker said water temporarily was being pumped through a fire hose to a ditch outside the building. That water was being pumped from one compartment in the crawl space that did not have paint cans or other hazardous items, Striker said.

Striker said he examined the water that was being pumped into the ditch.

“I did not see any contamination,” he said.

Striker said he contacted the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment spill hotline. He said that agency also plans to investigate.

Striker said about 13 paint containers had been removed from the crawl space, and it did not appear they had leaked any of their contents. Ryan said that in addition to the paint, old air conditioning/heating units were disposed of in the crawl space.

Video by Steamboat hotel maintenance worker

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

john bailey 1 year, 9 months ago

and why does the roof leak? wasn't that replaced this last summer.... come on guys you need to pay better attention to the work being done on your building.....

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 9 months ago

Where does it say the roof leaks?

Many building have issues with groundwater and seasonal wells.

Not sure why the employee was so sure there was contamination without seeing it in the water in the ditch.

If there is any contamination then their normal alternative of pumping it into an old well is probably worse because that would be contaminating groundwater. It would be far easier to detect a contaminated ditch and clean it up than groundwater.

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john bailey 1 year, 9 months ago

i witnessed it my self, friends stayed on the top floor

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Chris Hadlock 1 year, 9 months ago

Great example for why environmental regulations are needed. Without consequences for this kind of behavior our beloved corporations will almost always choose to save the money. This one small example is magnified how many times over as you start to include other cities, counties and states.

To those that would argue for the EPA to be disbanded, take a large bucket and drink from this source for a few weeks. You may find your priorities changed.

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walt jones 1 year, 9 months ago

Right or wrong this guy needs to be fired IMMEDIATELY!!! That is NOT the way you go about a concern you have as an employee without going through the proper channels first. I know the management company of this property and this isn't there only hotel and the would not have brushed this under the rug if it was brought to their attention.

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Cresean Sterne 1 year, 9 months ago

Just about everyone I know has or had a sump pump in there crawl space at one time or another. I have known some to run year around. That whole area was debated for yrs on whether anything should be built there because it sits on wetland. The hampton has had problems ever since it whas built. Ever wonder why such a prime area has never truly been developed??. Sounds like the pumps were not doing what they were intended to do and that they were exitng the property illegally. In the past, I have seen pumps exiting into a homes sewer line instead of the outside to keep them from freezing or because it was easier to exit the water that way. This is also illegal to do. I hope they get it figured out soon as our spring melt is about to give way.

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zak ryan 1 year, 9 months ago

@ walt jones, and why should i be fired, IMMEDIATELY? For not fitting the job description of knowing right between wrong. Well maybe you would fit in down there. For instance, you dont know that there is no said " management company" that you supposedly know. There is a private owner that franchised this hotel and one other. So your statement is WRONG. Heres a correct and true statement, i did report it to my superiors, it was ignored, as are many things in that building. What, do you really think thats my only video. Please, i did right by the community. But, fire me, please.

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john bailey 1 year, 9 months ago

right on zak, theres no way your getting fired. who ever looked the other way needs to be fired. what else is going on down by the river? its time to speak up, what were the cans doing in the crawlspace in the first place? just look behind the drywall in most older buildings i guarantee it will make you shake your head. been there done that. stand tall brother......

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zak ryan 1 year, 9 months ago

I can only speculate how and why those cans got down there. My best guess, the previous owner after remodel didnt have the means or time for proper disposal. The Hampon Inn has to function under Hilton Standards. Typically we would get water out of our crawlspace or basement via sump pump, anyone in the trades would agree thats the norm in mountain runoff areas. But not when there is a combination of products that do not belong. So we face two problems. We cant have standing water in the crawlspace under the hotel, and we cant pump that water out because of whats in it. There was need for hasty concern, because of the amount of mold that we also cant have in a building. I was faced with a choice, hook up sump pumps and let it rip, or get the proper team in there to make the appropriate decision that was above my pay grade. And yes, that roof, is either the unluckiest roof install in the world, or has really been poorly installed twice in a row by a company thats hopefully bankrupt from their own track record. This unfortuneately is a building that would be less expensive to bulldoze, than make it right.

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mark hartless 1 year, 9 months ago

"... less expensive to bulldoze than make it (the existing structure) right."

Zac, In correctly describing this and so many other buildings I think you have inadverdantly and concisely described the state of our nation, and especially the federal government.

Perhaps that's why so many people don't want to give up their "bulldozers"...

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zak ryan 1 year, 9 months ago

Well put. I can only wish that werent so true. I want to see what everyone else does, response.

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Fred Duckels 1 year, 9 months ago

I think that this problem could be solved minus the grandstanding.

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zak ryan 1 year, 9 months ago

Its too bad it took grandstanding to get the matter resolved. Youre company is a perfect example of that Mr Duckels. In 2005 an employee of yours broke his back on your work site. He returned to his loft and took a few days off, but when the swelling set in, and he lost sensation in his legs, he then had to beg n plead for coverage with your company to even get an mri. No Mr Duckels, i can see how youre not a fan in anything you big company owners dont want paraded out into our community. God forgive if we tell the truth, and air your dirty laundry. Anyone else here have a story of employees getting there problems swept under the rug to save corporate face!? Tell your tale. Us blue collars dont make enough money to be loyal, its just barely enough to scrape by, while we rake it in for the higher ups who never get dirty, sick, or injured.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 9 months ago

Well,your posts are pretty clear statements to any employer that you do not want to be employed.

And doesn't appear that anything was covered up or anything dramatic was cleaned up. Contaminated water cannot be pumped out to a ditch or a well so your claim that being pumped to a ditch made a difference is not true. But it is moot because Environmental Health did not find evidence of there being contaminated water.

Removing not leaking paint cans for disposal can happen is simply normal and proper maintenance.

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zak ryan 1 year, 9 months ago

Am i an environmental expert? No, im a maintenance guy, who expressed concern. A.d yes, we did pump that water out into a ditch with a rental pump. What was left out of this entire ordeal that ill share now to help you put in into perspective is immediately after coming out of that crawlspace i went into anaphylactic shock and was rushed to the hospital. An hour ago a Dr determined that my lungs are still inflammed. Yet my concern was for the safety of anyone else being exposed to this mess. Not my own. So if theres NO toxicity, and nothing spilled into that water, i must be allergic to bs, god knows theres plenty of that around. And ignore the thick film that topped the standing water in the third room. Thats what its supposed to look like.

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Chris Hadlock 1 year, 9 months ago

Striker said he examined the water that was being pumped into the ditch. “I did not see any contamination,” he said.

Were any actual tests done or did the inspector just look at the outlet and determine it was OK?

From the video, it may very well be that all of the contamination shown is mold and/or natural growth however, the rainbow film points to a problem. Without actual contamination tests it is impossible to know. Basement/crawl space water is not exactly the cleanest in the world but would not necessarily be contaminated.

Hope you are OK Zak, the amount of black mold in your video could easily be the source of your problems without being an environment concern for the Yampa river. Let us hope that the proper steps are taken. Let's just say that I will not be recommending the Hampton Inn to my friends anytime soon.

Brent and the Pilot, I think the readers of this publication would love to see some followup on this story. How about some independent testing and review?

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zak ryan 1 year, 9 months ago

I agree that my problems stemmed from an allergic reaction to the black mold. This being the second reaction ive had there. But when it came time to rule out whatever else might have been in that water, to ensure i didnt burn my lungs, this entire thing turned into the proffessionals being called in and taking proper steps towards resolution. Im doing the same for myself with the appropriate physicians.

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zak ryan 1 year, 9 months ago

Who would agree that the hotel should undergo a professional mold inspection? For the safety of employees and guests alike. Take into consideration the roof is bad, leaked in various places thru the winter, all three floors were effected, we even experienced a fire sprinkler line freeze and burst in the attic, and the amount shown in the crawlspace while it was flooded. Osha considers black mold, an occupational health hazard. Is there really a question as to why this is necessary?

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