Crude oil spills into Iowa river after freight train derailment

A train derailment has spilled 230,000 gallons of crude oil into an Iowa river, resulting in a disaster declaration from the governor and a massive clean-up operation.

The oil spilled into the swollen Little Rock River in Lyon County when 32 oil tanker cars derailed Friday. The train's operator BNSF said 14 of the derailed cars had leaked oil, the Lyon County Daily News reported.

Crews spent Saturday containing the spill and building a temporary road to move equipment to the crash site to make it easier to remove the piled-up train cars and advance the cleanup, the Sioux City Journal reported.

“They’re working diligently to get that done,” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said after meeting local authorities involved in the clean-up.

She issued a disaster proclamation Saturday for Lyon and three other counties in response to rain-fueled flooding and the train derailment, the paper reported.


Her proclamation placed the blame for the derailment on the flooding, the Associated Press reported. The Little Rock River rose rapidly after heavy rain Wednesday and Thursday.

Nearly half the spill — an estimated 100,000 gallons — had been contained with booms near the derailment site and an additional boom placed about 5 miles downstream, BNSF spokesman Andy Williams said. Skimmers and vacuum trucks were being used to remove the oil. Crews will then use equipment to separate the oil from the water.

"In addition to focusing on the environmental recovery, ongoing monitoring is occurring for any potential conditions that could impact workers and the community and so far have found no levels of concern," Williams said.

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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.