SILVER CITY, N.M. (KRQE) – Cleanup efforts have begun after an asphalt emulsion spill. The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) said the spill took place during the last week of September.

What happened?

On September 26, NMED alleged a truck owned by R. Marley LLC overturned on Highway 15 and spilled asphalt emulsion down Jaybird Canyon, which connected to Meadow Creek. NMED said the spill was not reported by the company, and it was discovered a week later when the incident was reported by the New Mexico Department of Transportation and the community.

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What is asphalt emulsion?

Asphalt emulsion is made up of asphalt, water, and an emulsion agent. The emulsion is what binds asphalt, oil, and water. A small percentage of an emulsifier, or “soap,” is also included in the mix for stabilization.

The product’s Safety Data Sheet stated there is “no known adverse effect to human health” and it is “not expected to be harmful to aquatic organisms.”

What happened after the spill was reported?

The U.S. Forest Service has been in contact with NMED, and they are working to identify the full impact of the spill. NMED staff review remedy plans, conduct violation investigations and evaluate water quality both upstream and downstream.

NMED said equipment and materials for cleanup will be utilized once acquired. Dozens of workers are expected to be working on site each day.

The department encourages drivers to avoid parking and gathering in the spill area due to the space available during cleanup. The spill area on Highway 15 is a two-lane highway, and crews, trucks, and heavy equipment will be in the area during the cleanup.

For any oil, toxic, hazardous, or contaminant spills, NMED can be notified at 505-827-9329 for emergencies. Their non-emergency number is 866-428-6365 or 505-476-6000.