There have been a number of messy accidents in rural Iowa this spring involving chemicals or liquid manure. Ken Hessenius, supervisor of the Department of Natural Resources field office in Spencer, says crop and animal producers should have an emergency plan in place in case of a spill.
He says that plan should include phone numbers to call for help and having hay bales or other items on standby to contain a spill. In some of the recent accidents, farm machinery slipped off of roads or driveways.
"Some of those drives do need to be widened to accommodate this larger equipment and the gravel roads are pretty narrow," Hessenius said. "They may pull over to let a car pass by and the shoulders, this time of year, can be very soft. So, there are a lot of places where drivers and applicators have to be real careful."
Producers that do have an accident are advised to report the spill immediately to the D.N.R. The agency has a State Emergency Spill line at (515) 281-8694. Environmental staff are on call to respond to spills 24/7. Hessenius says the D.N.R. workers can advise producers on how to clean up the spill and prevent further environmental damage.
D.N.R. officials credit quick response by a manure applicator in Butler County for preventing an accidental spill from moving downstream in a drainage ditch last week. A connection in a line used to land apply manure came undone resulting in approximately 4,000 gallons of liquid hog manure being released to a drainage ditch northeast of Parkersburg.
The applicator, Tim McCandless of Greene, constructed a berm across a ditch on the farm to keep manure from flowing downstream. The spill was contained quickly enough to prevent a potential fish kill.