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Sodium hydroxide leak stopped in Muscatine

MUSCATINE – An unknown amount of sodium hydroxide sprayed into the Mississippi River Monday following the transfer of the chemical from a barge to K. A. Steel Chemicals in south Muscatine.

A leak in a transfer pipe was discovered about 1 p.m. after the transfer was complete. K A Steel workers stopped the leak around 3 p.m. by reconnecting a hose to the barge, allowing excess chemical to drain back into the barge.

The company estimates the transfer pipe could hold about 796 gallons. Once the remaining product is moved, they will be able to calculate how much chemical was lost to the river.

DNR staff on site Tuesday said the hole in the pipe was small and the pipe was nearly horizontal, suggesting a minimal amount reached the river. DNR staff saw no dead fish at the site or downstream.

The DNR will continue to investigate the spill and consider appropriate enforcement action. The incident was also investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Also known as caustic soda or lye, sodium hydroxide is considered a hazardous substance because of its alkalinity. 

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