Published: Tue, June 26, 2018
Sci-tech | By April Francis

Evacuations Ordered For Community Along Northwest Iowa River

Evacuations Ordered For Community Along Northwest Iowa River

Skimmers and vacuum trucks were being used to remove the oil.

Drone footage released by authorities in Iowa shows oil spreading across flooded fields following a devastating train derailment.

Crews are trying to determine how quickly crude oil leaking from derailed railroad tanker cars in northwest Iowa will reach cities downstream. Williams added that almost half the spill had been contained with booms near the derailment site, with additional booms downstream, amid concerns that the oil may contaminate the water supply as far away as Omaha, Nebraska, some 240 km to the south. The cause has not been confirmed, although Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds attributed it to an intense storm and flash flooding in an emergency proclamation issued by her office on Saturday.

Lyon County Sheriff Steward Vander Stoep said between 30 and 40 semitrailers containing cleanup equipment had arrived at the scene near Doon, Iowa, by Friday afternoon.

"We have representatives from the EPA, state, local, regional, regulators are on site overseeing what we're doing and working with them to make sure that we clean up in the appropriate way as it relates to federal law and state law", said BSNF spokesperson Andy Williams. The train was carrying crude from the oil sands of western Alberta to Stroud, Oklahoma.

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. ConocoPhillips spokesman Daren Beaudo said each tanker can hold more than 25 000 gal. of oil.

Workers will continue unloading oil from the rest of the cars and removing them from the area over the next several days.

The spill threatened to contaminate drinking water for residents about 150 miles (240 km) downstream in Omaha, Nebraska.

Omaha's public water utility - Metropolitan Utilities District - is monitoring pumps it uses to pull drinking water from the Missouri River.

The community of Rock Valley, Iowa has been especially hard hit, confronted by floodwaters, the train derailment and an unrelated fire in the course of 24 hours. 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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