Mississippi boats sprayed by plane

Sunday, October 21, 2001

The Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. -- Emergency management officials took samples from a Mississippi River tugboat and pleasure craft after a low-flying crop duster sprayed the boats with an unknown substance.

Environmental Protection Agency officials Saturday were trying to determine what was sprayed.

A crop duster flying north passed over the tugboat near Rosedale, Miss., around 3 p.m. Friday, spraying the substance, said Kent Buckley, director of the Bolivar County Emergency Management Agency.

Matthew Tomek, a spokesman for the Bolivar County EMA, said officials think the spraying was "just a scare."

It appeared the plane released the spray on purpose, Buckley said, because it then circled around to spray a pleasure boat.

Buckley said officials suspect the substance was sodium chlorate, used to defoliate cotton crops. Buckley said that sodium chlorate is like salt water and is not dangerous.

It was unclear how many people were on the tugboat and pleasure boat, or if any of the crews were on deck when the plane passed over, Buckley said.

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