Feb 12, 2013 6:50 PM by Q2 News

Semi truck wreck spills magnesium chloride into the Clarks Fork River

Update - FWP wildlife impact study on the Belfry semi spill.

Monday, after the spill, Fish Wildlife and Parks planted "sentinel' fish in cages below the spill site to gage continuing damage to the fishery. Tuesday they found that all fish in all of the cages were alive and healthy. They also found numerous bait fish (chubs and young-of-the-year whitefish) in the riffles immediately below the spill site. They also were able to find an expected abundance and diversity of insect life in the stream below the spill site.

They will leave the cages in the water for the rest of the week since our best scientific data shows that the effects of magnesium chloride can take up to 96 hours to manifest themselves in some species of fish.

FWP also will work with the trucking and towing companies to take the remaining truck parts out of the river - they do not pose a continued hazard to fish, but they could be dangerous to other river users, including floaters and fishermen.

Update - Statement released from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

Hansers Automotive and Wrecking Company's haz mat team has pulled the trailers from the rivers and is removing other debris. Approximately 2,000 gallons of product have been removed from the pup trailer that did not leak. The wrecking company pulled the trailers from the river and is removing other debris. The magnesium chloride that spilled into the river has flowed downstream most likely cannot be cleaned up. Trevor Selch from FWP will be on site Tuesday morning to examine impacts to the fishery.

At approximately 8:00 am February 11, the Montana Highway Patrol reported that a semi-truck slid on the ice on Hwy 72 about 5 miles south of Belfry and then crashed through the guard rail on a bridge over the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River. The driver was not injured. The tractor did not go in the river but the trailer and pup-trailer did. The trailers together contained approximately 7,000 gallons of magnesium chloride solution (road de-icer). The larger trailer discharged approximately 5,000 gallons of deicer into the water killing dozens of fish. The other tanker did not leak. Darrel Krum from Carbon County Disaster and Emergency Services assisted at the scene.

At 8:53 Shelly Nolan of DEQ's Public Water Supply Program (PWS) notified Tom Livers, DEQ Deputy Director, that PWS was in the process of determining river flows and notifying any ground water based public water supplies within a 1,000 foot zone of the river. Those were LDS Church Belfy, Fromberg and Bridger Rest Area.

Tom Livers contacted Gary Hammond at FWP and was told that a Fisheries staff person had been sent out to investigate earlier this morning. He put out sentinel fish (that is, fish in cages that are placed in the river to do a canary test of sorts). DEQ will be notified as to any results.

BELFRY - Around 8:00 a.m. Monday morning, Carbon County emergency crews and the Montana Highway Patrol responded to a wreck involving a semi truck pulling two trailers five miles south of Belfry on Highway 72.

According to Trooper Gabe Bernard, a semi failed to negotiate a turn near the Clarks Fork Jackson Creek Bridge-- sending the two trailers full of calcium chloride into the river.

Bernard says a significant amount of the magnesium chloride leaked into the river.

Wrecker crews are on scene removing the wreckage.

Trooper Bernard also reports that there were no injuries. The driver, who works for Lynch Trucking out of Riverton, Wyoming, was issued two citations.

The roadways are clear and open to traffic.


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