Just after 8:00 A.M PST, on the morning of 12/27/06, EPA Region 10 Phone Duty Officer was notified of a release from the Agrium Conda Phosphate facility near Soda Springs, Idaho. The initial report indicated that 1 million gallons of low pH phosphogypsum waste water had discharged from the facility's "gypstack", a large impoundment, through a dike breach.
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The release was initially reported to be contained within the facility boundaries. Upon further assessment and investigation over the course of the following 24 hours, Agrium personnel determined that approximately 1 million gallons of gyp stack water with a low pH of about 2 was spilled and contained on the facility. Another estimated 3.7 million gallons of the gypwater and melted snow was discovered in the field behind the Torgeson Family's farm houses. To date, no health impact to humans or wildlife has been reported. Possible groundwater impacts are being investigated.
EPA Emergency Response Team Leader, Anthony Barber and two START contract personnel were dispatched to the scene. EPA formed a Unified Command with the Agrium and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. The process of cleanup included recovering spilled gypwater that was still liquid by pumping it back to the processing system decant ditch, recovering frozen gypwater with earth moving equipment, using lime or limestone to neutralize certian discrete areas of contamination, and further assessing and remediating soil and groundwater, as appropriate.
Because of the relative stability of response operations, the response transitioned from an emergency phase to a recovery and removal phase on 12/31/06. EPA and START personnel demobilized on this date.