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Efforts are underway in Ankeny, IA to clean up 800 gallons of milk dumped into a tributary leading to Fourmile River by a Hy-Vee employee.

On Tuesday, the Iowa Department of Natural Resrouces announced in a press release that at 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning, the Iowa DNR began receiving reports that a tributary to Fourmile Creek in Ankeny had turned white and that fish were struggling near the surface.

After investigation, DNR staff and city of Ankeny officials traced the white color back through a storm drain and found milk released at the Hy-Vee store at 410 N. Ankeny Boulevard in Ankeny.

The Iowa DNR said they are working with Hy-Vee to prevent the milky water from reaching Fourmile Creek on the northeast side of Ankeny. The DNR said that one option being considered prevent the milky water from reaching Fourmile Creek is to build a series of small dams and vacuum up the water.

The Hy-Vee on N. Ankeny Blvd lost power from the Derecho on Monday which caused the milk to spoil. Hy-Vee officials determined 800 gallons of milk were released.

According to the Des Moines Register, a spokesperson from Hy-Vee said,

"A Hy-Vee employee made an uninformed decision when instructing others on how to dispose of milk that had gone bad due to the recent power outages caused by Monday’s storms."

The spokesperson for Hy-Vee said that Hy-Vee will cover the cost of the cleanup and the employees involved have been enrolled in environmental training with the Iowa DNR to prevent this from happening again.

The Iowa DNR said that they have not seen any dead fish, but the DNR did say,

"...as bacteria break down organic products the bacteria use up oxygen. Particularly in small streams, low oxygen levels can kill fish and aquatic organisms like crayfish and insects."

Ted Petersen, DNR supervisor said in the press release

“Materials that we think are harmless can actually be very toxic to the environment. When disposing of a liquid into the municipal collection system, it’s important to check with the local wastewater treatment plant or DNR field office prior to disposal.”

DNR is monitoring cleanup activities and checking the stream for a fish kill. The DNR will consider appropriate enforcement action.

See video of the river below.

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