Ankeny, Iowa — The Iowa DNR says 800 gallons of milk that spoiled during the Derecho power outage was dumped into a storm drain outside an Ankeny Hy-Vee and is now flowing towards Fourmile Creek.
According to a news release from the DNR, officers responded to a tributary of Fourmile Creek in Ankeny this morning to investigate reports of the water turning white and fish struggling at the surface. The DNR was able to trace the white liquid to the storm drain at the Hy-Vee Store at 410 N. Ankeny Boulevard.
The DNR says the store reported 800 gallons of milk were dumped into the drain. The store lost power for 19 hours this week after the derecho storm blew through the state, leaving the milk unusable.
No dead fish have been found, but the DNR says as bacteria naturally break down the milk they will use up oxygen and possibly choke out wildlife in the water. The DNR is currently working to slow or stop the flow of the milk-contaminated water. One option they are considering is creating a series of dams and then using vacuums to remove the milky water.
The DNR says it is monitoring the cleanup efforts and “will consider appropriate enforcement action”.
“Materials that we think are harmless can actually be very toxic to the environment,” DNR Supervisor Ted Petersen said in the press release,“When disposing of a liquid into the municipal collection system, it’s important to check with the local wastewater treatment plant or DNR field office prior to disposal.”
Hy-Vee is taking full responsibility for the spill and says it is already working with an environmental cleanup company to hopefully contain the damage. The company issued this response:
“A Hy-Vee employee made an uninformed decision when instructing others on how to dispose of milk that had gone bad due to the recent power outages caused by Monday’s storms.Hy-Vee statement
The moment this was brought to our attention, we immediately began working with the City of Ankeny, DNR and a third-party environmental cleanup company to address any potential issues.
We are covering all costs related to the cleanup. We also have enrolled the employees involved in environmental education training with the DNR so this does not happen again in the future.