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Milk tanker spill near New Albany: Why MDEQ cries over spilt milk

milk tanker spill Milk tanker truck spill. Photo Courtesy: Chippewa County Wis. Sheriff's Office

At 1:38 AM, Sunday, January 15, at mile marker 72 in the west-bound lane of I-22, a tanker truck driver from Georgia lost control of his vehicle and ran off into the median of the highway. The truck was restrained from crossing over into east-bound traffic by the cabled fence installed in the past few years for that very purpose. (And, if you have recently traveled between New Albany and Tupelo, you may have noted six or seven places where the fencing has clearly been called into action.)

The truck driver, having sustained minor injuries, was taken to the hospital, where he was treated and released a few hours later. End of story? No, because the tanker was carrying a large quantity of “dangerous cargo” — milk. A typical milk tanker will hold 7,000 to 8,000 gallons.

Law enforcement authorities who answered the call to the accident scene notified Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). Both agencies responded to the call, sending employees to the scene.

MDEQ set about building a temporary dam around the truck before it could be uprighted and removed. The dam was intended to contain any additional milk that might be spilled in the process of clearing the truck from the scene.  Apparently there was a large spill, and it was near a drain that empties into the water system. It seems that milk is “dangerous” to fish, etc. if it gets into the watershed system.

According to our research on the subject, environmental officials at spills in other states were worried about the milk possibly entering the storm drains where the milk “could have spurred algae growth.” Also, microbes in the water work on decomposing the milk, which takes the oxygen out of the water causing the fish to die. So, if you spill a large container of your milk somewhere near a storm drain, marsh, lake or river, you may want to go ahead and cry over it.

DEQ completed its mop-up procedures about 10:30 AM Sunday morning.

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