Lime slurry from Western Sugar retention pond breach deemed not hazardous

Road closure due to Western Sugar's retention pond breach on Tuesday
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SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. The breach of a north side wall of a Western Sugar factory retention pond Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning caused lime slurry to disperse, luckily the slurry is deemed not hazardous.

According to groundwater geologist for Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, John Flint, some of the water and lime slurry spilled into a portion of South Beltline Highway East and Rebecca Winters Creek.

Flint says he’s waiting for Western Sugar to report on the approximate amount of the material discharged from the pond. The lime slurry is precipitated calcium carbonate used to filter out impurities in sugar juice before the crystallization process. The material is not toxic to humans, results from samples taken Tuesday night are awaiting results.

“This lime slurry and mud mixture, it's a pretty soft material. They indicated to me they feel the cause of it was rodents, gophers and what not, burrowing into it. That eventually is what caused the leakage, causing the breach,” said Flint.

Flint will be meeting with Western Sugar’s Corporate Environmental Manager Friday morning to discuss future plans of the retention pond. Fortunately, no fish kill or other aquatic life damage has been seen.