Estimated 230,000 gallons of oil spilled | AP business

Evacuations Ordered For Community Along Northwest Iowa River

A freight train derailed in northwest Iowa on Friday, leaking crude oil from into flooded fields flanking the tracks and raising concerns about the possible contamination of residential water supplies downstream, officials said.

Some officials have speculated that floodwaters eroded soil beneath the train track.

More than 30 tanker cars have derailed in northwestern Iowa and at least some are leaking crude oil into a nearby river.

City spokesman Travis Olson says 12 blocks of the city with between 50 and 70 homes - were evacuated Thursday when the Rock River came out of its banks. The cause has not been confirmed, although Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds attributed it to an intense storm and flash flooding in an emergency proclamation issued by her office on Saturday.

BNSF spokesman Andy Williams said 14 of 32 oil tanker cars just south of Doon in Lyon County leaked oil into surrounding floodwaters from the swollen Little Rock River.

A Conoco spokesman said that each tank vehicle could hold more than 25,000 gallons of oil (about 600 42-gallon barrels). Williams said officials hoped to reach the cars Saturday.

BNSF, a unit of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, said it was using skimmers and vacuum trucks to clean up the spill and minimize damage to the environment.

"We are working as quickly as we can to get this cleaned up", Williams said Saturday.

Crews spent Saturday containing the spill and building a temporary road to move equipment to the crash site to make it easier to remove the piled-up train cars and advance the cleanup, the Sioux City Journal reported. The train was carrying oilsands from Alberta, Canada, to Stroud, Oklahoma, for ConocoPhillips.

The spill threatened to contaminate drinking water for residents about 150 miles (240 km) downstream in Omaha, Nebraska. The Rock River joins the Big Sioux River before merging into the Missouri River at Sioux City.

Metropolitan Utilities District, which provides the Omaha metro area's drinking water, said it was monitoring the spill.

The city, with a population of almost 3,400, will stay on the rural water system until testing by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources confirms the safety of the city's drinking water, Olson said.

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