On September 26, 2022, a tanker operated by R. Marley LLC on contract for the New Mexico Department of Transportation fell on its side while navigating a hairpin curve on NM-15, resulting in the spill of 2,012 gallons of asphalt emulsion directly into Jaybird Canyon. In mid-October, Stratus was brought on by R. Marley to work with BRZ Consulting to assess the nature and extent of the spill, it’s threat to human health and the environment, oversee the cleanup of spilled materials, and respond to agency (NMED, USFS, and EPA) information requests and requirements on behalf of R. Marley, LLC. Stratus assisted BRZ Consulting with review of the Sampling and Analysis Plan, conducting soil and groundwater sampling, field-verification of conditions and cleanup progress, and mapping/GIS work. In later winter and spring, 2023, Stratus will be assisting with preparation of a sampling report, and with restoration of trail and drainage banks that were damaged during cleanup.
This incident, due to multiple consecutive failures to report it in a timely manner, highlights the need for better training on spill response procedures, more vigilant enforcement of regulatory standards and responsibilities, better coordination between state & federal agencies, and better communication with the public. R. Marley took responsibility for the incident, held a public meeting, put significant resources into the cleanup, and continues to work with agencies to right the wrong. The heroic efforts of volunteers from the Silver City community, who turned out in numbers to collect tar and tar-stained rocks and forest litter when it was realized this spill hadn’t been promptly reported, helped greatly minimize the impacts of this spill, which occurred during one of the wettest October months on record.