Iowa oil spill still a mystery

Evacuations Ordered For Community Along Northwest Iowa River

33 tanker cars of the BNSF train from Alberta, Canada left the tracks around 4:30 am Friday.

Doon, Iowa - A derailment on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad south of Doon has caused mandatory evacuations in the area. Several of the cars were compromised and leaked an unknown amount of crude oil into flood water, which eventually flowed into the Little Rock River.

The National Weather Service says the river rose rapidly Wednesday with the 5 to 7 inches of rain that fell along the Interstate 90 corridor in South Dakota. In addition to their current attempts to contain the crude oil, Vander Stoep says the railroad is sending a crew in for clean up. Skimmers and vacuum trucks were being used to remove the oil.

Hazardous materials and clean-up crews were on the scene late Friday afternoon.

The derailment also caused concern downstream, including as far south as Omaha, Neb., about 150 miles from the derailment site.

Vander Stoep said that drinking water in Doon and the immediate area didn't seem to be in danger of contamination. He says almost half the spill had been contained with booms near the derailment site and an additional boom placed approximately 5 miles (8.05 kilometers) downstream.

The city, with a population of almost 3,400, will stay on the rural water system until testing by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources confirms the safety of the city's drinking water, Olson said.

"I don't know how long that will be", he said.

Williams said he was unsure how much oil leaked and how numerous cars were leaking.

Beaudo said Saturday that the derailed oil cars were a model known as DOT117Rs, indicating they were newer or had been retrofitted to be safer and help prevent leaks in the event of an accident.

No information was immediately available on how much oil each of the tankers was carrying.

Vander Stoep said four homes near the site were evacuated.

The National Weather Service says the Rock River is expected to crest later Friday about a foot below the 2014 record of almost 23 feet (7 meters), when several Rock Valley homes were damaged by the floodwater. Most of the oil spilled into floodwaters, but some also entered the nearby Rock River.

The task difficulty is compounded by the spreading floodwater, he said.

Downriver, Omaha's Metropolitan Utilities District continues to monitor developments in the spill 153 miles to the north. MUD issued a statement noting, "We will continue to monitor and if necessary will shift water pumping away from Florence Plant to our two other treatment plants, that are supplied by Platte River".

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