Many Iowa cities have faced the problem recently of dealing with figurative “red ink” in their budgets — but Fort Madison literally had red ink flowing from the town Tuesday. Adam Broughton of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says the red ink came from a manufacturing company. He says employees at the Sheaffer Pen company were rinsing out five-gallon containers that had held biodegradable ink into a drain. They thought the drain led to a sanitary sewer, but the drain empties into a storm sewer, which flows into the Mississippi River. The way Broughton describes it, it looked a little like a scene from the movie “The Ten Commandments” when the Nile’s turned into blood. He says the material flowed into the Mississippi it was a bright red and it stuck together in about a 20 foot radius in the river. Someone spotted the red mass flowing down the river and called it in. Broughton doesn’t expect any environmental problems.He says the large volume of water helped dilute the ink and caused minimal impact on the river.The company estimates that 100 to 200 gallons of rinsed water spilled into the river that included a half-gallon of concentrated inks. Sheaffer says it will plug the drain so it can no longer be used.
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