US: Western Sugar lime slurry spill cleanup still ongoing

Published: 04/21/2017, 12:26:58 PM

Clean-up of a lime slurry spill on Western Sugar Cooperative property east of Scottsbluff is ongoing, a Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality official said Thursday, according to Nebraska's Star Herald newspaper.

The spill occurred overnight Tuesday, when an as yet unknown amount of the non-hazardous liquid spilled across the South Beltline Highway, and into ditches and Rebecca Winters Creek, according to John Flint, local field representative of the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.

Flint said the slurry results when lime is used to filter and purify the juice that is extracted when the sugar beets are boiled. The juice is then processed into sugar, and the slurry stored in retention ponds.

According to Flint, there was an unusually large amount of slurry in the pond at this time because the processing lasted so long this year. He said the force of the flow from the pond caused a large amount of foam, and it was sucked up by a vacuum truck.

The slurry is non-hazardous and in early inspections, officials did not observe any harmful results to fish in the creek.

Flint said early indications are that rodent activity might have caused the initial leak, leading to the spill.