About 5 p.m. Tuesday, the DNR received confirmation that the partially submerged train that derailed Monday night near Charles City is leaking ethanol and diesel fuel into the Little Cedar River.
The DNR has been checking for potential environmental concerns since early Tuesday morning. High, fast and heavily silted floodwaters have hampered cleanup and inspection of the Canadian Pacific Railroad’s cars and locomotives.
As the water receded slightly railroad recovery staff noticed a sheen around the lead locomotive and confirmed it was leaking diesel fuel. The railroad placed booms and absorbent pads around the locomotive and is confident they are capturing most of the diesel fuel.
They also discovered a puncture in one of the four derailed ethanol cars, resulting in what they think is a slow leak. The cars hold 25,000 gallons of ethanol. Unlike petroleum products, ethanol does not float, but mixes immediately with water making recovery impossible.
The railroad company plans to remove the leaking car Tuesday evening to prevent further loss of ethanol. If possible, they’ll also remove the other two ethanol cars in the water. They plan to remove the locomotives Wednesday morning.
Canadian Pacific is testing for dissolved oxygen levels to help monitor the extent of ethanol leakage and hazards to aquatic life. They’ve found normal oxygen levels and no evidence of dead or distressed fish in the stream.
The DNR will continue to monitor the situation and cleanup, and consider appropriate enforcement action.