Rail Trail reopens two weeks after hazmat spill | ParkRecord.com

Rail Trail reopens two weeks after hazmat spill

There are no long term impacts to the environment after a semi truck rolled over and caught fire in April

The Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail in Silver Creek Canyon, near the Tolgate exit on Interstate 80, reopened on Wednesday. A 100-yard portion of the Rail Trail was closed for cleanup after a semi truck roll over on I-80 caused a hazardous materials spill .
David Jackson/Park Record

The Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail in Silver Creek Canyon has officially reopened after nearly two weeks of cleanup efforts.

Summit County officials opened the roughly 100-yard section of the Rail Trail on Wednesday and said there were no long-term impacts on the environment. Both directions of the Rail Trail were closed after a semi-truck carrying organic peroxide rolled over and caught fire on Interstate 80 on April 19.

Derek Siddoway, the county’s spokesperson, said the area was initially closed over concerns about the highly flammable chemical compound entering the air and water. He said the truck and its cargo burned for several hours, and the fumes were too intense, which prevented firefighters from getting too close for some time.

Officials with the Summit County Health Department’s environmental health team were worried about the organic peroxide off-gassing, or it mixing in with the water in the area, according to Siddoway. He said there were concerns that pets in the area may ingest the contaminated water, which would likely be fatal, or that people may come in contact with the irritant. County staffers also notified landowners downstream of possible risks.

Cleanup efforts began the day after the rollover when the Health Department partnered with a third-party contractor. The first phase of the work included cleaning in and around the water and setting up dams and booms, which acted as filters to help capture the substance.

Environmental health experts also took soil samples to test how deep the organic peroxide went into the ground. The county kept the area closed to ensure crews could work without pedestrian traffic, Siddoway said, and they excavated the area to remove the contaminated dirt.

The closure was extended past the county’s initial estimate due to stormy weather last week and the challenges crews experienced navigating their equipment through the area.

Siddoway said environmental health officials opted to reopen the area after determining no threat remained from the hazardous materials spill. There was no lasting damage to the environment, and no wildlife appeared to be harmed.

The Summit County Health Department’s environmental health team is involved in three or four cleanup efforts a year, but most of the work isn’t as extensive as this project, according to Siddoway. He said some work still needs to be done, like repairs to some cement near I-80, but that’s a job for the Utah Department of Transportation.

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