Railroad unloading oil from cars after Iowa derailment

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Railroad unloading oil from cars after Iowa derailment

(Doon)- Flooding is believed to have been the cause of a train derailment in Lyon county early this (Fri.) morning that has resulted in the evacuation of some residents there. Skimmers and vacuum trucks were being used to remove the oil. Floodwater along the Little Rock River is running over a road north of the track. Crews will then use equipment to separate the oil from the water. The water towers also will be drained as a precaution, said Rock Valley public information officer Travis Olson.

Almost half the spill - an estimated 100,000 gallons (378,530 liters) - had been contained with booms near the derailment site and an additional boom placed approximately 5 miles (8.05 kilometers) downstream, Williams said.

In the meantime, the city is getting its water from the nearby Rock Valley Rural Water system, which Olson says is not in danger of being contaminated by the spill.

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. "It sounds like the cleanup is going to take a while".

It's not yet clear how many tankers are leaking or how much oil has escaped. Williams said officials hoped to reach the cars by sometime Saturday afternoon.

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. Cleanup crews have been dispatched.

Four homes near the site have been evacuated. The Rock River, which is usually about 100 yards wide (about 91 m), is now about half a mile (804 m) wide, according to Iowa Natural Resources Department spokesman Ken Hessenius.

The service has issued flood warnings for several other rivers and creeks in the area, including the Big and Little Sioux rivers, the Floyd River and the Ocheyedan River near Spencer.

"The river, instead of being 100 yards wide, is now maybe a half-mile wide" in spots, Hessenius said.

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

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