On Tuesday, September 23, The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office called the Missoula City-County Health Department notifying them of an abandoned semi-truck trailer near the Wye Truck stop west of Missoula.

The trailer was carrying chicken meat and had been sitting for three to four weeks. Environmental Health Specialist with the Missoula City-County Heath Department Alisha Johnson says inspectors recently examined the load.

"The insurance company was able to look inside of the trailer yesterday [September 24]," Johnson said. "Evidently there is a porthole or some sort of viewing section in the trailer and they were able to look at how full the trailer was. It is filled up to about the last five feet of the trailer and they estimate that it could be up to 37,000 pounds."

A stream of liquified chicken has been gathering under the semi truck and producing a notable smell.

"The person that went out there yesterday from our department said that there was an odor, it's not that prominent yet, but it is definitely smelly. The truck has not been opened yet. The odor could of course be much greater once the truck is opened up."

Taking the festering chicken meat to the dump poses some problems. One issue is whether or not contamination will spread during transport.

"One of our concerns is the state of the load inside, whether or not it has broken down into more of a liquid component that could come out of the trailer when towed and whether or not it is contaminating the local area just by sitting there," Johnson said. "Currently it is just a very slow drip, so its nothing that's a major contaminate in the local area."

As of now, the load is mostly solid. Health officials are considering refrigerating the trailer, but are concerned that refrigeration will make unloading the chicken more difficult.

The trailer is currently waiting for transport, but because the load is so large and of such a peculiar nature, special paperwork needs to be processed by the insurance company and the local dump.

Photo courtesy of LeAnne Gage-Metcalf