Railroad unloading oil from cars after Iowa derailment

Railroad unloading oil from cars after Iowa derailment

A 32-car oil train derailed in northwestern Iowa Friday while crossing the flooding Little Rock River near the town of Doon.

One or more of 31 tanker cars on the derailed train is leaking into floodwaters surrounding the tracks near Doon, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) southeast of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Governor Adam Gregg listen to flood victims while visiting the northwest Iowa flood regions and the BNSF train derailment.

City spokesman Travis Olson says 12 blocks of the city with between 50 and 70 homes - were evacuated Thursday when the Rock River came out of its banks. Reynolds visited the derailment site Saturday afternoon as part of a tour of areas hit by recent flooding. 14 of the cars have been leaking oil since the accident, with officials estimating 871,000 litres of crude have seeped into floodwaters adjacent to the tracks.

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.

BNSF had hazardous materials and environmental experts on the scene and had begun cleanup within hours of the derailment, Williams said.

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Olson says the city, with a population of almost 3,400, will use the rural water supply until testing by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources confirms the safety of the city's drinking water.

The derailment also caused concern downstream, including as far south as Omaha, Nebraska, approximately 150 miles (240 km) from the derailment site.

Crews are trying to determine how quickly crude oil leaking from derailed railroad tanker cars in northwest Iowa will reach cities downstream.

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 of oil.

Metropolitan Utilities District, which provides the Omaha metro area's drinking water, said it was monitoring the spill.

Rock Valley has shut off all its drinking water wells. The amount spilled also isn't yet known. The spill reached the Rock River, which joins the Big Sioux River before merging into the Missouri River at Sioux City. It plans to drain and clean its wells and use a rural water system until testing shows its water is safe.

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