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I-29 Crash Takes All Day To Clean Up

February 2, 2011, 5:55 PM by Kelly Bartnick

I-29 Crash Takes All Day To Clean Up
SIOUX FALLS, SD - A pickup collided with an 18-wheeler pulling two trailers, sending the the truck out of control and causing a chemical spill. Eight hours later the crash,  between 12th and 26th street, was still being cleaned up.

The semi was hauling two tanks of liquid fertilizer. The second tank was turned on its side and emergency officials say more than a thousand gallons of the fertilizer spilled into the median.

It's all because of a slick spot on roads that seemed clear.

"There was a crash between the two vehicles. The semi-truck and trailers ended up in the median," South Dakota Highway Patrol Captain Kevin Joffer said. 

Captain Joffer says when a semi ends up a snow-bound median, it takes time to get it out. And when chemicals and the haz-mat team are involved, the process takes even longer.

The crash happened around 9 a.m. Wednesday on I-29 between 12th and 26th streets. An hour later parts of the interstate were closed as crews tried to clean up the mess.

"The wrecker needs room to work with getting the truck up and out. Same thing with the tankers," Joffer said. 

Clean-up crews battled the cold all day, keeping multiple lanes closed. And they aren't done yet. Drivers can expect the same Thursday morning, too.

"Our firefighters have to be out there. They're trained. They're also in great physical shape to handle the stresses of going from a warm building to working outside in those environments," said Jim Sideras with Sioux Falls Fire Rescue. 

Fire Fighters responded to the call when it came in. It's also their job to know chemicals.

"We've sent them all over the country to special schools so that they can know how to contain those elements. How to contain and handle those," Sideras said. 

In this case, interstate traffic was never rerouted because the fertilizer that spilled isn't harmful to people.
So for drivers, it's only an inconvenience from an accident that could have been much worse.

"As you set these things up you have to be careful. It's tedious work and so it takes time," Joffer said.

The highway patrol says only the driver of the pick-up truck had minor injuries and will be ticketed for reckless driving. Crews will wrapped up work Wednesady night by 5:30 p.m. They're scheduled to begin again at 8:30 a.m. Thursday morning.

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