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Fertilizer Spill Creates Cleanup Headache Tuesday

By Staff | Apr 13, 2017

CLEANING?UP?- Workers from Cooperative Farmers Elevator of Hartley excavate soil from a ditch along Iowa Highway Four in Graettinger Tuesday evening to finish cleaning up a liquid fertilzer spill that occurred earlier in the day. The Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office, along with the Iowa Department of Transportation, City of Graettinger, PRO?Cooperative, Iowa Motor Vehicle Enforcement and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources all assisted at the incident. -- Dan Voigt photo

GRAETTINGER?- A tanker carrying liquid fertilizer suffered a catastrophic failure Tuesday afternoon that forced a major clean up on Iowa Highway Four in Graettinger.

According to Palo Alto County Sheriff Lynn Schultes, the incident occurred around 2:30 Tuesday afternoon when a tanker from Cooperative Farmers Elevator in Hartley was arriving in Graettinger to deliver 3,000 gallons of nitrogen-based liquid fertilizer to the PRO?Coop. As the tanker was traveling on Highway Four, the front and rear end caps of the polychloride tank failed and blew out, spilling the 3,000 gallons of liquid fertilizer on Highway Four.

The driver of the truck was uninjured in the mishap.

Upon arriving at the scene, the Sheriff’s Office directed traffic over the two affected block length of the highway as cleanup efforts were initiated.

Cooperative Farmers Elevator representatives responded from both Hartley and Ocheyedan to coordinate the cleanup. Staff from PRO?Coop in Graettinger also assisted in identifying the fertilizer for authorities to aid in the response. A sander from the Iowa Department of Transportation was called to cover the spill in order to help with absorption of the liquid on the roadway.

Also arriving at the scene were officers from the Iowa Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, who determined that soil contaminated by the spill would have to be removed from the east ditch of the roadway.

The City of Graettinger brought a street sweeper to the scene to clear sand off the roadway. A backhoe and endloader were used to excavate the saturated soil in the ditch for approximately one city block along Highway Four, with workers also using clay absorbant to soak up remaining liquid. Over 100 bags of floor-drying compound were used in the cleanup efforts, according to authorities.

“We had great response from all the agencies and organizations who turned out to help,” Schultes said. “This is the second incident of a major spill in the county in a short time, but we are very fortunate that no one was injured in either event.”

Schultes took the opportunity to remind motorists that as Spring field work begins, drivers need to be extra alert for farm implements, including fertilizer spreaders and tankers as they carry their cargo.

“Give them room on the roadways and drive defensively,”?Schultes said.