Crews still cleaning up after semi crash in Red Cedar River - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Crews still cleaning up after semi crash in Red Cedar River


MENOMONIE - Crews are working around the clock, and against the clock, to minimize effects from a major fertilizer spill in the Red Cedar River.

Last week, a semi loaded with nearly 24,000 pounds of bagged fertilizer plunged into the river near Menomonie. The two people in the truck died.

Ever since the crash, divers and experts have been working day and night to remove the bags of fertilizer from the river. But that process has been hampered by the water, which is 25 feet deep, ice, steep river banks, and lack of access for heavy equipment.

The colder weather we've had might be helping. The DNR says the cold temperatures appear to be dampening how toxic the fertilizer is.

Video taken by divers shows live fish swimming above the debris, and no dead fish have been seen. Cleanup crews are racing to finish before the weather warms and spring runoff brings swift currents and heavy ice flows.

Today crews removed the last of about 200 bags. They say there's no way to clean up the contents of the other 400 bags that spilled .

The DNR is working to assess possible environmental effects. There was no phosphorous in the product, but the concern is ammonia in the fertilizer could be toxic to aquatic life.

The fertilizer also contained a herbicide. But that has floated to the top of the water, so it's easier to remove.

The insurance company for the trucking company has hired the cleanup contractor. There's no word yet on an estimated cost for the cleanup.

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