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Cleanup progressing at Minnesota site of anhydrous ammonia leak

Emergency crews Tuesday morning, May 7, 2013, spray the accident scene of a train and a semi-tractor trailer carrying anhydrous ammonia west of Murdock, Minn. This photo of the scene looking southward across U.S. Highway 12 toward the BNSF Railway tracks and the Koch Nitrogen plant. Highway 12 traffic was being detoured around the scene via county roads. Tribune photo by Tom Cherveny.

MURDOCK, Minn. - Traffic will continue to be detoured around a portion of U.S. Highway 12 between Murdock and DeGraff for a few more days, possibly until Sunday, while anhydrous ammonia from a damaged tanker is safely removed.

The situation was under control, but authorities were being careful to prevent any risk to the public or workers at the site of Tuesday’s semi-truck and train collision, the Swift County Sheriff’s Office reported.

The Murdock Fire Department and hazardous materials teams are relieving pressure from the damaged anhydrous ammonia tank. A patch on the tank allows the escaping anhydrous ammonia to be transferred into a separate tank holding water, turning it into aqua-ammonia. The solution does not pose the same risks as anhydrous ammonia.

Eric Westin of Pine City, a licensed hazardous material hauler with Jensen Transport Inc., was airlifted Tuesday to St. Cloud Hospital, where he was last reported in critical but stable condition.

Sheriff John Holtz said Wednesday that Westin was the only person airlifted to medical care as a result of the accident.

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