The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Union-Pacific Railroad worked both Monday and Tuesday to clean up the mess along 200 miles of track between Harrison County in western Iowa and Linn County in the east. DNR spokesperson Kevin Baskins says the amount of spillage varied greatly.
“The biggest pool of the material we found in Boone, where the train made a 15 minute stop,” Baskins said. “It was an estimated loss of about 1,500 gallons there in Boone.”
It is not believed much, if any, of the animal fat reached a waterway where it could threaten fish. “The railroad acted quickly in getting the bigger areas that had leakage cleaned up, so we’re hopeful that there won’t really be any kind of environmental impact,” Baskins said. “We did check all of the places where this train would have crossed streams or rivers and we did not see any visible impact to any of those surface waters that the train crossed.”
The spill is blamed on a cap that somehow came off the bottom valve of the tanker. The leak was not discovered until the train reached Cedar Rapids. Baskins said oil-dry was applied at railroad crossings where the material could cause slick conditions for vehicle traffic.