msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 8/23/2011 4:25:13 PM ET 2011-08-23T20:25:13

Canisters of frozen bull semen that fell from a Greyhound bus caused a minor scare when emergency officials found them emitting vapor by the side of the road near downtown Nashville.

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The canisters fell off just before 6 a.m. on Tuesday as the bus traveled around the curve of a ramp to Interstate 65. Metro Nashville police and fire officials were called to the scene because of reports of a foul odor coming from the leaking canisters.

WKRN-TV reported the four canisters of sperm and dry ice were en route from Ohio to a Texas breeding facility.

Officials shut down the ramp until they determined what was in the containers. The containers were traced to Greyhound after officials found bus tickets on the ground, WKRN reported. The bus driver did not know the cargo had been lost and had continued on.

The canisters were en route from Columbus, Ohio, to a breeding facility in Laredo, Texas, WKRN reported.

Such canisters typically carry between 300 and 400 straws, each containing one milliliter of semen, WKRN reported, with each straw worth $18 to $50, depending on the bull the semen came from, experts told WKRN, meaning the lost load could have been worth as much as $80,000.

The scene was cleared by about 9 a.m.

A Greyhound spokesperson told WKRN that it's not uncommon for its buses to carry bull semen. The canisters contain liquid nitrogen to keep the semen frozen and thus can only be transported by ground, the spokesperson said.

Greyhound told WKRN the semen was carried in a compartment underneath the bus separate from where passengers' luggage was stowed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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