The Clark Fork and the Blackfoot rivers are open again tonight, after a semitruck crashed and sent industrial soap chemicals into the water.
NBC Montana was at the accident scene this afternoon to check on the spill status. Fish, Wildlife and Parks confirmed crews are finished clearing the crash scene and the chemicals that spilled on Highway 200. This afternoon, they opened the river again and declared the river safe.
Crews spent the entire day cleaning up. The accident happened early Tuesday morning.
News of the chemical spill got a quick reaction from the Clark Fork Coalition.
"A reminder that our rivers are always vulnerable for this type of spill because we have so many areas where roads or railroad tracks are right next to the rivers," said Science Director at the Clark Fork Coalition Chris Brick.
This is the second accident in less than a month that sent material into Clark Fork waters. The first was a train derailment carrying the Boeing plane parts. There was no threat to water quality that time.
This time the truck that crashed was carrying chemicals used for making industrial soap. Responders were quick to shut down river access to protect floaters and fishers.
"Affecting people at this point, access to the river and any recreation downstream," explained Fire Battalion Chief Paul Finlay.
Late Tuesday afternoon, responders determined the spill was small enough to be of little threat because the chemicals were quickly diluted in the water. It allowed officials to reopen the river and declare the water safe to use.
Still, it was a close call, and the Clark Fork Coalition says it's a reminder that area rivers are vulnerable, and more should be done to prevent spills like this from happening.
"Again, another wakeup call that we need to make sure that we have rules and regulations in place to prevent spills from trucks on highways and trains on railroad tracks that run right next to our rivers," explained Brick.
The truck driver told investigators that his front tire blew as he turned the corner and sent his semi out of control. No one was injured in the accident.