Semitrailer carrying missile parts overturns in N.D.Military officials said Tuesday it could take a week to clear a site in north central North Dakota where a semitrailer carrying missile parts from the Minot Air Force Base overturned.
By: By James MacPherson, The Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK — Military officials said Tuesday it could take a week to clear a site in north central North Dakota where a semitrailer carrying missile parts from the Minot Air Force Base overturned.
Air Force spokeswoman Laurie A. Arellano said the semitrailer overturned Monday afternoon on a gravel road. It carried rocket engine parts for intercontinental ballistic missiles but no nuclear material, she said.
The shipment also contained two 14-gallon tanks of liquid rocket fuel, but it was not in danger of exploding or leaking, Arellano said.
Liquid rocket fuel, if released into the atmosphere, “has about the same potential as anhydrous ammonia,” Arellano said. Anhydrous ammonia, which is used by farmers to help fertilize crops, can be lethal if exposure is great enough.
“We are confident there are no leaks and there is no danger to the public,” Arellano said. “We know the worst-case scenario is not going to happen.”
The Air Force said the payload transporter from base’s 91st Missile Wing overturned about 10 miles northwest of Berthold in Mountrail County.
Arellano said the driver of the truck and its passenger were not injured. The cause of the crash is under investigation, she said.
The airmen in the truck “had been out doing routine maintenance and were returning to base,” Arellano said.
The equipment is being tested to make sure it’s safe to move, and that process could take a week.
Military and local law enforcement agencies are guarding the truck and its shipment, Arellano said.
It was the second crash of an Air Force vehicle from the base in a year.
The Minot base, home to about 4,800 active-duty military personnel, is the command center for about 150 Minuteman III missiles, sunk in hardened silos in north central and northwestern North Dakota, and is one of the nation’s two B-52 bomber bases.
The Air Force said it spent about $5.6 million last year to recover an unarmed booster rocket for an intercontinental ballistic missile from a North Dakota ditch. An Air Force truck carrying the booster for a Minuteman III overturned in July 2008, a few miles east of Parshall in northwest North Dakota.
The military blamed “driver and safety observer error” for the accident and said the public was never in danger.
The truck was traveling from Minot Air Force Base to a launch facility when it crashed on the gravel road. Two airmen in the truck were not seriously hurt.
The truck and booster rocket, which was 66 feet long and weighed 75,000 pounds, remained at the side of the road for more than a week, while investigators assessed the site.