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Published November 19, 2009, 08:10 AM

Part of South Dakota town evacuated after chemical leak

Residents of Big Stone City, S.D. have returned home after being evacuated after an anhydrous ammonia leak Wednesday night.

By: Associated Press,

BIG STONE CITY, S.D. — Residents of the northeastern South Dakota town of Big Stone City who were evacuated after an anhydrous ammonia leak have returned to their homes.

Grant County Sheriff Mike McKernan says the residents returned home about 5 a.m. today, after authorities finished cleaning up wreckage of a traffic accident that led to the leak.

The accident happened shortly before 8 p.m. Wednesday on U.S. Highway 12 at Big Stone City near the Minnesota border. McKernan says the semi was carrying anhydrous ammonia from Canby, Minn., to Wilmot and had just crossed the border into South Dakota when it collided with a van that crossed the center line.

Anhydrous ammonia is a farm fertilizer than can cause health problems if people breathe it. McKernan says the leak was small and no residents were harmed. The drivers of the semi and the van were treated for minor injuries.

McKernan says between 50 and 75 residents of the town of 600 spent the night with relatives, friends or in hotel rooms after leaving a temporary shelter set up at a local school.