Hazmat team to Storm Lake
An anhydrous ammonia nurse tank containing liquid fertilizer overturned northeast of Storm Lake late Thursday afternoon, causing local safety officials to evacuate the area and call in a Sioux City Hazardous Materials team to help control the situation.
Charles Specketer of Rembrandt was pulling the nurse tank, which was 75 percent full, behind his tractor on county gravel road 120th Avenue when he attempted to turn onto 570th St. As he turned, a bolster pin on the tank running gear failed, causing the tank to overturn onto the roadway.
When the tank fell onto the road, its control valves were sheared off, allowing the nitrogen to escape into the atmosphere.
Crews from the Storm Lake Fire Department, Buena Vista County Sheriff's Office, BV County Secondary Road Crew Road Department and BV County Emergency Management responded to the accident, and were on the scene until approximately 1:40 a.m. Friday morning.
"We did close down the roads for a quarter mile in all directions as a precaution, and we notified all the people around the area of the situation," Storm Lake Fire Chief Mike Jones said. "We also had monitoring equipment in the area, and there were no detectable traces of anhydrous around the scene."
Jones said the situation was complicated by the fact that the control valves on the tank were clipped off during the accident, prompting those on scene to decide to call in the Hazmat team experts.
"Since there were no control valves, there was no way we could offload the anhydrous into another container," Jones said. "The initial plan was to upright the tank and get the owners in there to cap it off and haul it away, but because the control valves were sheared off, we weren't able to do that," Jones said. "That's why we decided to call in the Hazmat team and have them assess the situation."
Once on scene, Hazmat officials determined that it would be safe to discharge the anhydrous and bleed off the pressure. Warm temperatures helped expedite the process on Thursday evening, and all of the nitrogen is expected to be out of the tank by this morning.
Jones said the roads around the accident scene will continue to be blocked off until the anhydrous completely bleeds out of the tank. Once that occurs, officials will be able to safely remove it from the area. Jones said that removal process is expected to take place sometime late this afternoon.