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Emergency crews converge Tuesday west of Murdock near the U.S. Highway 12 Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway tracks and the Koch Nitrogen plant after a collision involving a train and a semi-tractor carrying anhydrous ammonia. Highway 12 traffic was detoured around the scene via county roads. Tribune photo by Tom Cherveny

Detour to last four days as ammonia accident cleanup continues

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MURDOCK, Minn. — Traffic on U.S. Highway 12 in west-central Minnesota will likely remain detoured for four days as a result of the semi-truck and train collision Tuesday.

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It is expected to take four days before the contents and the damaged anhydrous ammonia tank at the accident site west of Murdock can be removed.  Until then, traffic will remain detoured for safety reasons, according to Bill McGeary, emergency management director for Swift County.

He said emergency responders and a hazardous materials team have the situation under control. Anhydrous ammonia is no longer leaking from the damaged tank, other than an occasional whiff of the gas. Crews have been able to place a patch on the tank that sends the escaping anhydrous ammonia into an adjacent tank containing water.

The contact with water turns the anhydrous ammonia into an aqua-ammonia that does not pose the explosion and inhalation risks as does anhydrous ammonia.

But McGeary pointed out that until the anhydrous ammonia and damaged tank can be removed from the site, officials want to protect the safety of the public and the workers by routing traffic away from the area.

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