Iowa authorities issue update on Red Oak fertilizer spill

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The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has said in a statement that its staff are continuing to investigate, and monitor, a farming cooperative’s fertilizer spill near the city of Red Oak in Montgomery County.

The DNR previously reported that on Monday 1,500 tonnes of liquid nitrogen fertilizer had discharged into a drainage ditch, before running into the East Nishnabotna River. The river is now believed to have been affected as far downstream as the Missouri border, 40 miles away.

The department urged persons in Montgomery, Page, and Fremont counties with private wells in close proximity to the East Nishnabotna River to contact their county health department to request that their wells be tested for nitrate.

It added that, due to low water levels in the East Nishnabotna, the concentration of the liquid nitrogen fertilizer is higher than it would have been during normal stream flows, causing a heightened risk for animals due to high nitrate and urea levels.

The DNR said that Scott Radke, a toxicologist at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, recommends keeping all animals away from the East Nishnabotna River until the contaminants leave the area.


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