NPS Digest is reporting that on the morning of Tuesday, September 18th, a tractor-trailer rig traveling eastbound on New Mexico State Highway 4 in Bandelier National Monument missed a sharp curve, went off the road, and plunged roughly 200 feet down a steep slope into the park. The truck was carrying about 2200 gallons of highway striping paint that spilled and spread over nearly an acre of park land. The truck’s gas tank also leaked diesel fuel as well. The driver survived the accident.
Park staff are working to determine the toxicity of the paint and assessing its impacts to the environment. The paint spill is visible from roads and hiking trails in and around the monument. By the day following the accident, the paint had congealed, allowing workers to remove the clumps by hand and revealing minimal subsurface damage.
The Los Alamos Laboratory hazardous materials team minimized the spread of the diesel fuel. Bandelier is working with the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the New Mexico State Police, the Los Alamos Police Department, Los Alamos Fire Department, and New Mexico Department of Transportation to investigate safety issues and threats to vulnerable resources in the affected area.