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Officials Monitor Mississippi After Dubuque Derailment

Train Cars Carrying Ethanol Leaked After Crashing Into The River

SD Dirk (CC-BY)

After 15 train cars derailed this week along the Mississippi River near Dubuque, Iowa, officials continue to monitor and clean up the wreckage and ethanol that spilled into the water.

Three train cars ended up in the river across from Wisconsin, but have been removed. Ethanol leaked from eight cars but it’s still unclear how much spilled.

Shawn Giblin, a Mississippi water quality specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural said his team is sampling backwaters downstream from the spill, since ethanol can deplete oxygen in water. He said they’ll be watching for fish and mussel kills.

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“We basically conducted the monitoring down in Sunfish Lake and it looked very normal in terms of the conditions that you typically observe this time of the year, so we didn’t see much in the way of dissolved oxygen depletion,” Giblin said.

But, downstream may be a different story. Communities in Illinois and Iowa use the Mississippi as a drinking water source. Iowa DNR, federal, and rail officials are continuing to monitor the air and water quality.