Bull semen spill causes scare, closes highway

NASHVILLE, Tenn Wed Aug 24, 2011 11:53am EDT

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NASHVILLE, Tenn (Reuters) - A spill of frozen bull semen bound for a breeder in the state of Texas triggered a scare on Tuesday that temporarily shut down a U.S. interstate highway during the morning rush hour.

The incident began when the driver of a Greyhound bus carrying the freight alerted the fire department he had lost a part of his load while negotiating the ramp on a highway near Nashville.

"We didn't know what it was, but we were told (the canisters) were non-toxic," said Maggie Lawrence, a fire department spokeswoman.

When firefighters arrived on the ramp, they saw "four small propane-sized canisters (that) began to emit a light vapor," Lawrence said.

In addition to the vapor, the canisters also let off an unpleasant odor and the ramp was closed while emergency personnel tried to determine what was in the containers.

The bus driver turned around to retrieve the canisters. Once emergency personnel learned the smoking canisters were nothing hazardous and that they simply contained frozen bull semen that had been stored on dry ice, Tennessee Department of Transportation and fire department workers cleared the ramp.

"It was no different to us than if a mattress fell off a truck," said transportation spokeswoman B.J. Doughty.

(Editing by James B. Kelleher and Greg McCune)

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