Officials continue to handle fallout from derailed train, subsequent ethanol spill in Iowa

Railroad and state officials said they're still dealing with the aftermath of a freight train that derailed about three weeks ago and spilled ethanol into the Mississippi River north of Dubuque.

Kevin Baskins a spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources, told the Telegraph Herald ( ) on Monday that 55,000 gallons of ethanol remain unaccounted for at the site where three train cars went off the tracks Feb. 4 and tumbled into the river. A total of eight cars that derailed appeared to spill ethanol.

Baskins said crews cleared ethanol that spilled across about a half-acre of land around the tracks and all but about 400 gallons that pooled atop chunks of ice on the Mississippi. He said some fuel burned or leaked into the river or soil, and that there's no way of telling how much.

Efforts to monitor water quality and aquatic life in the river are ongoing, Baskins said, but past results shows that the majority of ethanol in the water dissipated downstream, and no fish kills have been reported. Canadian Pacific spokesman Andy Cummings said the railroad has assisted with the DNR's observations.

The DNR's involvement has prompted talk of compensation, but Baskins said discussions with Canadian Pacific haven't yet touched on the subject.

Other entities, however, such as the Sherrill Fire Department, have begun actively seeking compensation for the department's aid at the derailment site. And Brian Preston, executive director of the Dubuque County Conservation Board, said he seeks reparation for possible property damage caused by the railroad company at a park in Sherrill. He said crews displaced park signs and heavy-equipment vehicles impaired nearby roads, and that he plans to talk with Canadian Pacific officials about improvements needed at the site.

Cummings said costs involved with damage control and cleanup would not be disclosed unless the Federal Railroad Administration, an agency investigating the derailment, requests the information. He said the derailment cause has not been determined, and that investigation by the federal agency typically takes six months.


Information from: Telegraph Herald,