ALTON, Iowa -- Cleanup efforts are continuing following a Sunday train derailment around Third and River streets in this Sioux County town.
A bridge beneath a 95-car Union Pacific train collapsed, derailing 37 cars at 4:30 a.m. Sunday. Twenty of those cars carrying soybean oil and sand went into the flooded Floyd River.
Justin E. Jacobs, a spokesman for the Union Pacific Railroad, said sand and soybean oil were released into the river as a result of the accident. He added that no hazardous chemicals were released into the Floyd.
Also, no injuries were reported in the accident.
Recent flooding and heavy rain were likely the cause of the derailment of the train that was traveling from Mankato, Minnesota, to North Platte, Nebraska.
A containment boom was deployed downstream of the derailment on Sunday. Boats, additional containment booms, a vacuum truck, a skimmer and other response equipment and personnel are also available for use if required.
Union Pacific Environmental Management Group specialists are also coordinating efforts with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in the soybean oil cleanup. Jacobs said they've been working with local authorities from the very beginning.
"We were alerted by Union Pacific, first thing on Sunday, that there were no injuries and no hazardous material leaking into the river," Alton Fire Chief Quinton Van Es said Monday. "The situation could have been much worse."
Still he recommended that travel should be avoided to Alton if possible.
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"There are contractors who have been working around the clock on cleanup efforts and there will be more on the way," Van Es said. "We have barricades around town since so much activity is going on. I urge everybody to abide by the barricades that are out there."
Alton City Administrator Dale Oltmans agreed, adding that traffic into the Sioux County town was already restricted due to flooding.
"The road from Third Avenue to Minneapolis Street has been closed since Sept. 20," he said. "With the increase of contractors and heavy equipment coming into town it means things will be pretty hectic."
Luckily, they won't have much added precipitation coming their way.
"Other than a 60 percent for light precipitation on Tuesday, Alton will be looking at a fairly non-rainy forecast," said Jim Murray, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls. "The new rain amounts will be in the vicinity of one-tenth of an inch, so we're not in danger of any more flooding."
Indeed, Alton's forecast calls for dry conditions and high temperatures in the 50s and 60s.
This will continue to be the case until Sunday, Murray said, when Alton has a 40 percent for rain.
The cleanup is likely to continue long after that.
Van Es estimated that cleaning up the Floyd will continue at least until Wednesday while Oltmans said Union Pacific may be on site much longer.
"The entire bridge was destroyed," Oltmans said. "I'm sure this will take additional time to repair."