Clean-up at Mirror Lake crash site suspended until after ice melts

DNR news release

MADISON — Efforts to remove debris and potential contaminants from a fatal accident that sent a semi-truck and trailer into Mirror Lake have concluded for now and will resume after the ice melts in the spring, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The accident that killed two occupants of the truck happened the morning of February 17 on the I-90/94 bridge near Wisconsin Dells.

Despite extremely cold temperatures and thick ice, contractors hired by the insurance carrier for Service Plus Transport working with oversight by the DNR managed to recover 23 of 24 sealed, intact drums filled with industrial adhesive. They also recovered industrial tubing and large parts of the truck cab and trailer body. An estimated 100,000 lead battery terminals are still unaccounted for at this time.

“Visibility in this area is poor due to a soft lake bottom, so we have not been able to recover the battery terminals that we are told were on the truck at the time of the accident,” said Michael Schmoller, a DNR regional spills coordinator. During the search for waste and debris, divers were not able to locate the terminals or the final drum of adhesive, he said.

The DNR will work with the contractors to identify dredging options to locate the missing cargo in the spring when the ice melts.

Crews also placed an oil absorbent boom on the ice around the spill area to catch fuel and engine fluids from the truck caught in the ice as the ice melts. Currently, the boom is secured to trees on the south side of the gorge.

“The best news to come from this recovery effort so far is that none of the drums showed signs of leakage, so we aren’t currently looking at an even larger environmental impact,” Schmoller said.

The DNR commends the work of the contractors that worked in the recovery effort, including SCS Engineers of Madison, Steve’s Ice Water Recovery of Reedsburg, Clean Harbor Environmental Services of Germantown and J.F. Brennan Company of La Crosse. Also instrumental in the rapid response were the warden staff that were the first department representatives to be on scene and the staff at Mirror Lake State Park who have helped with the recovery efforts.

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