BONNER - A semi tractor-trailer truck wrecked on Highway 200 about two miles east of Bonner and spilled industrial soap into the Blackfoot River early Tuesday morning.
The wreck occurred about 9:15 a.m. The cargo truck went off the northbound lane and rolled into the barrow pit. No other vehicles were involved, but traffic on both lanes was blocked to clear the wreckage at 10:15 a.m.
The highway was expected to be reopened to traffic later in the morning.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials closed access to the Blackfoot River downstream of Wishard Bridge. A turquoise-gray stain could be seen floating down the Blackfoot for about half a mile downstream of the wreck.
Missoula Rural Fire acting battalion chief Paul Finlay said it appeared to be coming from containers of aluminum sulphate and diethanolamine, which are used in soap-making processes. The driver said the chemicals were headed for an industrial facility in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
While the chemicals are inert when separate, they can become dangerously acidic when mixed. Crews were placing a boom on the water to contain the spill and trying to plug a drainage pipe that was carrying the spill from the barrow pit into the river.
Medics treated the driver, Padlodic Borislav, on the roadside.
Borislav told Montana Highway Patrol officers his right front tire blew out as he was rounding a curve and the truck went out of control.
East Missoula Fire, Missoula Rural Fire and Missoula Haz-Mat personnel responded to the wreck.
Republic Waste Services officials plan to recover and dispose of the remaining chemicals in the Missoula landfill. County health officers are overseeing that recovery process.