Inspectors weigh in on cause of cranberry truck spills
Two semi trucks have spilled cranberries in central Wisconsin in just one week. And investigators say that's rare. Now, they're trying to find out why its happening.
On Tuesday night, 52,000 pounds of cranberries made quite the mess in Kronenwetter.
"These had come just right off the bog so you're talking a rather nice fresh berry that had a high, high moisture content in it," Kronenwetter Police Chief Daniel Joling said.
Investigators said they're still trying to determine exactly what caused a semi to split open, spilling cranberries across I-39. However, they said weight and weak metal were most likely factors.
"The rails on the side of the trailer had just become fatigued and cracked and that's where it let loose," Chief Joling said.
"It could just be one rail that cracked and the rest just followed suit," State Inspector Susan Maes told Newsline 9 after seeing the damage first-hand.
This was the second cranberry spill in just a week. Company officials at Lake Nokomis Cranberries where the fruit was harvested didn't want to talk on camera, but said they're glad no one was hurt and are proud of the way the driver handled the situation.
Meantime, state transportation officials said it's unusual to have cranberry spills, adding that farmers and commercial trucking companies don't necessarily need a permit to carry a heavy load.
"Some greater than legal truck weights are authorized from September 1st through December 31st," Supervisor Kathleen Nichols said.
Inspectors said during the harvest season, drivers can carry as much as 92,000 pounds of cranberries and vegetables without a permit. But those extra pounds can have an impact.
"The fact that it being an older trailer, it's being used for hauling this extra weight because they are being allowed to haul the extra weight now at this time of the year," State Inspector Susan Maes said.
Still, trucks and trailers have to pass an inspection. This one did.
"The trailer and the truck recently had annual inspections completed in August of this year," Maes said.
It's not clear then why the truck split apart. The investigation is still going on.
Investigators said ultimately, it's up to the driver to make sure the equipment can carry the weight.
As far as the loss of the cranberries, it's still unclear whether Lake Nokomis' berries are covered by insurance. The company did not want to comment.