Highway Dept. worker washes paint into Fond du Lac River

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FOND DU LAC, Wis. (WBAY) - A Fond du Lac County Highway Department paint truck, used to paint lines on the road, was the source of a yellowish substance leaking into the Fond du Lac River.

Fond du Lac River spill
A yellowish substance drains from the sewer system into the Fond du Lac River on May 11, 2017 (Photo: Fond du Lac Fire Department)

A passerby reported a yellow cloud in the water by the bridge at Western Avenue Thursday afternoon. The spill was coming out of the sewer drain near Western and Superior Street. Fond du Lac firefighters responded with hazardous materials equipment.

"It came out of the river. We basically try to dam it up as close as we could to the river," Division Chief Troy Haase said. "They have it shut down so we can start to recover what's left in the sewer."

Firefighters traced the origin of the spill to the highway department garage.

According to fire officials, about 30 gallons of paint was dumped into the sewer system by a highway department worker cleaning out the truck. The highway commissioner says it was done by mistake but will be investigated.

"There is a close proximity where our storm sewer and our sanitary sewer meet. Where we wash that truck out is where our wash bay is located at the end of the building, and at times vehicles get just outside that building, and during clean up somehow that substance got into the storm sewer," said Fond du Lac County Highway Commissioner Tom Janke.

It's the same paint used in homes and isn't toxic to humans.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources was called in as a precaution to determine what damage might have been done to the environment.

Traffic on Western Ave. was diverted during the cleanup effort.

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