Almost half of Iowa crude oil spill contained, BNSF says

James Marshall
June 25, 2018

Sheriff Stewart Vander Stoep (VAN'-dur stoop) in neighboring Lyon County says the train derailed between 5 and 5:30 a.m. Friday just south of Doon.

Ken Hessenius with the Iowa Natural Resources Department says his crews will try to determine how fast the oil is being carried downstream by the rain-swollen Little Rock River.

Tanker cars from a freight train carrying crude oil are shown after a derailment along the Rock River south of Doon, Iowa, U.S.in this June 22, 2018 handout still image taken from aerial drone video.

Almost half the spill - an estimated 100,000 gallons - had been contained with booms near the derailment site and an additional boom placed about 5 miles downstream, BNSF spokesman Andy Williams said.

Within hours of the derailment, BNSF had brought in dozens of semitrailers loaded with equipment to clean up the spill, including containment booms, skimmers and vacuum trucks.

The railroad will focus on environmental recovery.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds toured flood-stricken areas of the state Saturday noting in social media posts, "I was impressed by the coordinated efforts of county & state emergency management".

Beaudo also did not know whether the derailed oil cars were the safer, newer tankers meant to help prevent leaks in the event of an accident.

Leah Vanderbrink, of Doon, Iowa, said, "Around a quarter to five this morning, our neighbor called and said that a train derailed and had derailed into one of our fields".

Some officials have speculated that floodwaters eroded soil beneath the train track. Floodwater along the Little Rock River is running over a road north of the track.

About 100,000 gallons had been hemmed off using booms out of the estimated 230,000 gallons spilled, BNSF said in a statement on Saturday.

The train was carrying tar sands oil from Alberta to Stroud, Okla., for ConocoPhillips. ConocoPhillips spokesman Daren Beaudo said each tanker can hold more than 25,000 gallons (20,817 imperial gallons) of oil.

The derailment also caused concern downstream, including as far south as Omaha, about 150 miles from the derailment site. It joins the Rock River a few hundreds yard west, which courses south into the Big Sioux River.

"Our first major concerns are public water supplies", he said, adding that several towns that draw water from shallow wells near the Rock River have been alerted about possible contamination. The city of Rock Valley, Iowa, has already shut down its water wells and plans to drain and clean them until testing indicates the water is safe to drink.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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