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Ammonia spill at Co-Op gushes for hours

March 7, 2012
By DAVID ALEXANDER - Staff Writer ( , Times-Republican

WHITTEN - A hazardous material team responded to the Mid-Iowa Co-Op, 14314 310th St. in Whitten, after an apparent valve malfunction caused three tanks of ammonia to begin leaking around 10 a.m. Tuesday.

The supply tanks gushed the noxious chemical for several hours, said Grundy County Sheriff Rick Penning, but the Waterloo Hazmat team was able to get the leak under control by 2:30 p.m.

"Corrosive material could eat away at the valves," Penning said. "If it gets old it might not work right."

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The site of the ammonia spill Tuesday morning at the Whitten branch of the Mid-Iowa Co-Op. The three tanks gushed roughly 70 to 80 percent of their 28,000 gallons over roughly 4.5 hours.

By the time responders got the leak under control, the three tanks had spilled roughly 70 to 80 percent of their 28,000 gallons onto the grain elevator plant's property, Penning said.

Beaman and Conrad Fire Departments and Beaman-Conrad First Responders were on scene as a precautionary measure. The leak caused no injuries or fires, he said.

Farmers use the ammonia in fertilizer and come to the Whitten branch of the co-op to fill their tanks.

Luckily, Penning said, there are no farm houses nearby and the vapor cloud created by the ammonia dissipated quickly because of strong winds.

"The leak has stopped and the product has dissipated," he said. "It's a very good outcome."

Mark Kistenmacher, general manager at the co-op, said the manufacturer of the 12,000-gallon and two 8,000-gallon tanks has been contacted.

Kistenmacher said he doesn't know how old the tanks are.

"There is no way to inspect those until they are empty," he said.

Nobody had to be evacuated or sent home because of the spill, he added.

County Highway D65, which was closed westbound from Highway 14 and eastbound from S-75, was closed for most of the day.

Penning said there is no plan to investigate the spill for negligence.



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