Mysterious, multi-county spill isn't white paint, INDOT says

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The spill of a white, paint-like substance that Tri-State commuters began noticing this past weekend splattered across several miles of road on the Lloyd Expressway in Evansville isn't actually paint at all.

According to the Indiana Department of Transportation, it's lime.

More specifically, it's probably crushed limestone, according to Chris Cash, a manager with the Posey County Co-op. It's similar to crushed gravel, Cash said, and farmers use it to counteract acidity in soil.

Cash also noted the spilled limestone shouldn't be harmful to the roads.

INDOT Southwest spokesman Gary Brian said his agency initially received reports of the spill Friday afternoon. The business that allegedly caused the spill would be taking responsibility for its cleanup, Brian said.

The company's cleanup procedure was cleared with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and meets their recommendations, he also noted.

A spill of what some believe to be limestone is nearing the end of the trail at A.B. Brown Power Plant in Posey County, Ind., Monday evening. A truck is thought to have leaked the substance across three counties – Warrick, Vanderburgh and Posey – while traveling west on Hwy 66.
A spill of what some believe to be limestone is nearing the end of the trail at A.B. Brown Power Plant in Posey County, Ind., Monday evening. A truck is thought to have leaked the substance across three counties – Warrick, Vanderburgh and Posey – while traveling west on Hwy 66.

That company, according to Brian, is Elmer Buchta Trucking; a coal, limestone and aggregate hauler headquartered in Otwell, Indiana.

The Courier & Press called Elmer Buchta Trucking's main office for comment but had not received a response at the time of this writing.

According to the company's website, Elmer Buchta hauls roughly 1,500 loads across the Midwest daily, including transporting coal to utilities. At 550 million tons per year, the company states it's the largest hauler of coal-combustion products in Indiana.

In addition, the company also transports crushed limestone from businesses like Mulzer Crushed Stone Inc. to farms in the Tri-State, Cash said.

"(Mulzer) will hire the people that's transporting a product for us," Cash said. "They actually just dump it (the crushed limestone) out there in the field and we go pick it up in a loader."

A few social media commenters said they'd seen signs of the spillage in parts of Warrick County, including in front of the Alcoa plant in Newburgh, and out near the A.B. Brown Generating Station in Posey County.

A Courier & Press photographer followed the spill's trail, starting at Alcoa, and found it ended at a gate at the power station, which is owned and operated by CenterPoint Energy. That's about 30 miles of highway.

Erin Merris, a spokeswoman with CenterPoint, confirmed that the substance was lime and that it was being transported between the plant and another one of their facilities. She said the lime is used in the plant's "ash pond-closure process."

The plant, which is powered by coal, is expected to be closed by CenterPoint in 2023 and replaced by two natural-gas fueled turbines and a mix of solar-and-wind-generated energy.

This article originally appeared on Evansville Courier & Press: Mysterious, multi-county spill isn't white paint, INDOT says