Federal, state, and local response agencies worked together last weekend to recover a potentially dangerous anhydrous ammonia tank floating in the Missouri River near Claysville, just west of Jefferson City. The 1,500-gallon tank, including its wheeled chassis, was reported floating downstream Friday afternoon. Given the tank contained anhydrous ammonia, a toxic and potentially deadly chemical, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MoDNR) requested EPA’s support with recovery and disposal.
Boat operations are treacherous when the river condition is at flood stage as it was Friday. With reports that the river levels would be lower and safer on Saturday, EPA On-Scene Coordinators (OSCs) James Johnson and Joe Davis and MoDNR OSC Sarah Hearne developed a mid-day Saturday recovery plan. The Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) and Jefferson City Fire Department’s Boat Division were able to secure the tank Friday. They found the tank was intact with no evidence of a leak.
“Since the Missouri River was at flood stage on Friday, it was unsafe for sustained boat operations to secure and remove the tank from the waters,” said Joe Davis, EPA on-scene coordinator. “Working with MoDNR, we determined it was best to secure the tank overnight and wait for safer river conditions on Saturday.”
On Saturday, March 20, Johnson and Davis met with MoDNR OSC Hearne, and Missouri Farmers Association (MFA) assistant manager Ben Steinman at the Missouri boat access ramp about four miles downstream from the tank. Working together, the team launched EPA’s boat and successfully retrieved the tank. The team assessed the condition of the tank, estimated the volume of its contents, and towed the tank four miles back downstream to the boat ramp.
MSHP troopers Nicholas Borgmeyer and Tyler O’Brien worked with MoDNR, MFA, Jefferson City Fire Department, and Kendalls & Pro Tow Services to remove the tank from the river, secure it, and transport the tank to MFA’s facility. The Jefferson City Police Department assisted in keeping the general public safe by closing the ramp until the tank was removed.
“Without the collaboration from all teams, removing the tank from the Missouri River would not have been as successful,” said MoDNR OSC Hearne. “It is great to see how federal, state and local responders and local businesses can work safely together to resolve a problem.”
Once recovered, MFA agreed to store the tank at its location in Jefferson City. MoDNR and MFA agreed to work together to attempt to find the tank owner. MFA will keep possession of the tank if no owner can be found.
In Missouri, to report an abandoned tank or container during flooding, or if you find sealed drums, tanks or barrels of unknown contents, call the Department of Natural Resources’ Environmental Emergency Response 24-hour spill line at 573-634-2436.
Source: EPA Region 7