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Laramie Residents Worried About Water Quality After Energy Truck Crashes

Roads Less Traveled

Multiple energy industry trucks have crashed on a stretch of mountain road between Laramie and a booming energy field in Jackson County, Colorado. The trucks spilled fracking fluids and diesel into a nearby creek; one driver was killed.

Albany County residents recently hosted a meeting to learn more about the problem. Woods Landing Resort owner Sue Spenser hosted the event. Spenser is also a hydrogeologist and said she's seen a lot more energy trucks navigating the steep and curvy Highway 230. She's worried there could be more spills.

"That's the thing that concerns us, especially like for Laramie," Spenser said. "If it spills into Wood's Creek. Given, it's small quantities. But still, that goes into Laramie's drinking supply because Wood Creek dumps into the Big Laramie and heads down to the water treatment plant."

Spenser is also concerned about first responders like her husband since they might be exposed to unknown chemicals since the trucks are not required to label what they're carrying and companies aren't required to disclose what chemicals they use in the fracking process.

"I mean it's probably a witch's brew of stuff that's in there," said Spenser.

She explained that the trucks were likely taking the fracking fluids to the Cheyenne or Weld County, Colorado areas to be disposed of, either to be re-injected into the ground or for evaporation in a holding pond.

Representatives from the Wyoming Highway Patrol attended the meeting to let the public know that more warning signs would be posted on the highway and that they would patrol it more often with officers specially trained to inspect commercial trucks.

But Lieutenant Michael Simmons said, there's nothing they can do to re-route the energy traffic.

"If it's within compliance of whatever they're registered for-width of the vehicle, height of the vehicle, whatnot-then we don't have the authority to tell them where to go," said Simmons.

He said the driver who was killed had received a briefing by his company about the dangerous conditions before he drove it.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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