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Wisconsin crash where 2 Minnesota men died spilled chemical

  • Associated Press
  • March 15, 2013 - 11:54 AM

MENOMONIE, Wis. - Divers are still working to remove chemicals that spilled into a Wisconsin river earlier this month during a fatal crash that killed two Minnesota men.

Mohammed Malin and Batrodin Siyad, both of Minneapolis, were in a semitrailer that slipped off a snow-covered Interstate 94 bridge in Menomonie on March 5. The truck was carrying nearly 12 tons of fertilizer, and the entire cargo ended up in the Red Cedar River.

The fertilizer contains an herbicide for killing crabgrass, the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram reported ( http://bit.ly/Yy46y9).

Of the 595 fertilizer bags, 209 had been recovered by Thursday, said Ed Culhane, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

"That part of the operation is complete, so in terms of the bags, that is what we're going to get out," he said.

Crews are still working to capture more herbicide, although much of it is trapped under ice. When the ice melts workers will try to trap more of the chemical, as well as remnants of diesel fuel, he said.

No dead fish have been reported.

The semi had skidded off the bridge and crashed into the river, plunging through 2 feet of ice into 25 feet of water. The initial emergency response focused on removing the men and the wreckage from the water. One man's body was recovered the same day but it took two days to find the other body and also to extract the main portion of the tractor and trailer.

On March 7 a cleanup crew used containment vessels to collect diesel fuel and debris that had floated to the surface. The next morning a vacuum truck was used to remove more fuel.

By March 9 salvage divers were able to map the bottom of the river in the area, using video that revealed living fish.

Further cleanup efforts have been hampered by steep banks and heavy traffic on the interstate. Crews tried to haul out contaminated chunks of ice with a crane but weren't successful.

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Information from: Leader-Telegram, http://www.leadertelegram.com/

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