Construction crew digging up dirt soiled with paint and hauling it down to N.M. 4. Courtesy/NPS
Trees will be left to naturally shed the layer of paint. Courtesy/NPS
San Bar Construction Corporation continues work to remove paint associated with a September 2012 vehicle accident within Bandelier National Monument’s boundary. Crews began work last Monday and are expected to continue into this week. There will be no road closures during removal operations.
The paint spill is a result of a tractor-trailer accident that occurred Sept. 18, 2012. The rig, traveling eastbound on N.M. 4, missed a sharp curve and went off the road, plunging about 200 feet down a steep slope into the monument. The truck was carrying about 2,200 gallons of highway striping paint. Spilled paint spread over nearly an acre of Bandelier National Monument near the junction of N.M. 4 and N.M. 501.
The clean up work underway includes trash collection associated with the wreckage, removal of contaminated soils from a small localized fuel spill, turning over painted rocks and large tree trunks to conceal the bright paint, and grit-blasting roadside boulders on N.M. 4 to remove paint residue.
The goal of the project is to reduce the overall visibility of the paint spill in the short term. However, people driving along N.M. 4 should expect that the paint spill will still be visible after the clean-up.
“There are a small number of Ponderosa pine trees near N.M. 4 that are heavily coated with paint on their trunks and needles. Over time, we expect the needles to fall off and be replaced with new growth, while the bark will go through a slow natural shedding process,” says Chief of Resources Barbara Judy. “Allowing the trees to recover from the paint spill on a natural schedule, rather than cutting them down, is more in line with the National Park Service mission.”
Paint on rocks will be removed by grit-blasting. Courtesy/NPS