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Crash Spills Load of Potent Insecticide; Pilot Killed

July 31, 1987

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) _ The pilot of a crop-dusting plane was killed Friday when his aircraft struck a high-voltage power line and crashed in a potato field, dumping a load of highly toxic insecticide, authorities said.

Flathead County Deputy Delbert Brenneman said pilot Rodney A. Martin of Denton was killed instantly.

Corky Derby, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, said the plane carried a highly toxic phosphate called Monitor 4, an insecticide commonly used on potatoes.

″Ambulance and fire crews at the scene were told to wash with soapy water at least twice, to destroy any leather shoes or boots ... and to burn (their) clothing,″ she said. ″Anybody who was at the scene is being asked to take the same precautions.″

George Algard, bureau chief of technical services for the state Agriculture Department in Helena, said an emergency response team from his agency and the state Health Department would be sent to help with cleanup and disposal of the insecticide.

He said the Cessna probably carried about 100 gallons of the diluted chemical, which he called one of the most toxic available.

The insecticide can affect the human nervous system if a large enough dose comes in contact with skin or is inhaled, Algard said. ″I would think that three miles from the city, it should not cause a problem,″ he added.

The spilled chemical will have to be neutralized with an alkaline substance and the contaminated soil removed, he said.

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