Heavy rains may be to blame for a train derailment in northeast Iowa this morning. Four locomotives pulling a freight train fell from a bluff into the Mississippi River just south of Guttenberg at 3 a.m. Sue Miller is on the scene for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
"It looks like a boulder fell down from the bluff," Miller told Radio Iowa. "We don’t know yet if it was simultaneous with the derailment or if it happened to disrupt the tracks enough that the train, when it came upon it, was shifted off of the tracks."
Two employees of the Iowa, Chicago and Eastern Railroad were taken to the hospital with minor injuries. A railroad spokesperson say it appears "heavy rain saturations" Tuesday weakened the bluff embankment, causing the rock slide.
Miller says all four train engines are spilling diesel fuel and oil in the river. She says clean up crews from the U.S. Coast Guard and the I-C & E railroad are working to contain the spill. In addition to the spill from the four train engines, five other train cars spilled grain. Two cars carrying ethanol derailed near the water but do not appear to be leaking.
Miller says it’s quite a mess, but getting the railroad back in business is a priority. "You’d be amazed at how fast they can clean these things up," Miller said. "They’ve got the money and the incentive to get this rail clear so they can get trains through." As of 10:30 this morning, the D.N.R. reported spilled fuel and oil reached about five miles downstream on the Mississippi River.