Cleanup continued Monday two weeks after the release of 10 million gallons of sludge from a Trempealeau County sand mine.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has yet to release data from tests on water samples taken after the May 21 spill, but agency spokesman James Dick said Monday that staff are reviewing results but “preliminary monitoring data so far indicate that there is no immediate toxicity.”
Dick also said there have been no observed fish kills and dissolved oxygen levels remain “good” on the Trempealeau River.
Workers at the Hi-Crush mine in Whitehall drained a holding pond after a bulldozer slipped into the water. The driver escaped uninjured after about 2 1/2 hours in the air-tight cab.
The mine sludge spilled into a tributary of the Trempealeau River that runs past Mary Jo Bork’s home on Pocker Coulee Road. She said she didn’t learn the source until hours later when mine representatives showed up at her door.
Bork said a four-acre strip recently seeded with wildflowers and a crop field rented to a neighboring farmer were coated in orange sludge with an oily sheen on top.
Crews have been working since the spill with suction trucks and heavy equipment to remove the much. Bork said she was told Monday the cleanup could last for weeks.
According to Trempealeau County, the sludge covered an area about 1.5 miles long and 250 yards across.
Hi-Crush officials said the pond contained mostly water, silt, clay and sand, though it could contain trace amounts of a polyacrylamide, which is used to remove silt from the water.
“They keep telling me it’s safe, but this isn’t just water,” she said. “It’s goopy stuff.”