Monday, November 09, 2015

Train derailment dumps 18,000 gallons of ethanol into Mississippi River in rural town

More than 18,000 gallons of ethanol were spilled into the Mississippi River on Saturday when a BNSF Railway train derailed in rural Alma, Wisc. (Best Places map), Pat Pheifer reports for the Star Tribune. Of the 32 cars that crashed, five broke open, and four damaged tanker cars leaked "an estimated five to 500 gallons of ethanol each, and a fifth one released about 18,000 gallons, BNSF said in a statement. A full tank car holds about 30,000 gallons."

"The effect of the spill on river habitat below Lake Pepin remains unknown, but reports after previous spills indicate that ethanol alone is less toxic than ethanol mixed with gasoline," Pheifer writes. The crash "temporarily closed two state highways and prompted about a 2½-hour voluntary evacuation of nearby residents, the Buffalo County Sheriff’s Office said. Crews from BNSF stopped the leaks from all five cars, placed a containment boom along the shoreline and began removing ethanol from the cars, said railway spokeswoman Amy McBeth. Working with cranes and winches, crews hoped to clear the tracks and reopen service along that stretch of rail line by (today), she added. On average, 45 to 50 trains travel that route in a 24-hour period." (Read more)

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