DNR: Search for 100,000 lead battery terminals in Mirror Lake postponed after February fatal semi crash

March 8, 2019

LAKE DELTON — State environmental officials say some potentially hazardous cargo carried by a semi truck that plunged more than 100 feet into Mirror Lake last month, killing two people, remains unaccounted for beneath the lake’s ice.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said a search and recovery effort has been suspended until after the ice has melted -- likely in May.

Mike Schmoller, DNR regional spills coordinator, said an estimated 100,000 lead battery terminals still in the lake should not have a significant impact on the lake water or wildlife because the terminals will be removed soon.

He said the lead in the terminals would dissolve over time, but should not have an impact in the short term.

“It’s basically non-toxic stuff,” Schmoller said.

Recovery workers hauled at least 23 intact drums of industrial adhesive carried by the truck out of the lake already, and it’s possible one more drum still may be in the lake.

“We think we got 24, but there might be one that was missed,” Schmoller said.

As soon as the ice has melted and it’s safe for workers to resume their search, Schmoller said the recovery efforts will continue.

“It’s not a good idea to let them sit there, so we’re going to go in there and try to dredge them out,” Schmoller said.

In a news release, the Department of Natural Resources said poor visibility in the lake, low temperatures and thick ice were factors in the decision to postpone recovery efforts.

Crews placed an oil absorbent boom on the ice around the area where cargo and various fluids had spilled into the lake, according to the news release. This is expected to help catch potentially harmful materials as the ice melts in the weeks to come.

Multiple companies and state agencies have assisted in recovery efforts, the news release said.

Mirror Lake is a popular location for tourists visiting nearby Wisconsin Dells and serves as the centerpiece of Mirror Lake State Park, which includes a campground and public beach area.