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Chemicals Spill as Wind Blows Train Off Iowa Bridge

July 30, 1986|Associated Press

BOONE, Iowa — Chemicals spilled Tuesday after 16 cars of a freight train were blown off a bridge during a fierce storm and plunged 185 feet into a river valley.

"It's very evident there are chemicals leaking out. You can see the green tinge in the water," Gov. Terry Branstad said after flying over the site.

Six people--a state trooper, three fishermen and two railroad workers--were treated at a hospital for nausea and other symptoms that state officials said may have resulted from exposure to materials leaking from truck trailers riding piggyback on the railroad cars.

No one on the train was injured in the derailment late Monday.

Officials evacuated a one-mile area around the crash scene, including a Bible camp attended by 200 high school and college students. Iowa Natural Resources Department spokesmen recommended that people stay out of the Des Moines River below the accident site as well as a large recreational reservoir downstream.

Eighteen cars of a 31-car Chicago & North Western Transportation Co. train apparently were blown off the tracks while crossing the 2,685-foot-long Kate Shelley Bridge 3 1/2 miles northwest of Boone. Sixteen cars carrying 29 truck trailers fell into the Des Moines River valley.

"There are crews from the University of Iowa hygienics lab who are on the scene testing," Branstad spokesman Dick Vohs said. "One of the difficulties . . . is determining what was on the train."

About 100 drums and 200 bags of a toxic agricultural insecticide, Endosulfan, were among the cargo that fell, C&NW spokesman James Foote said. Some containers of the powdered insecticide broke open, but there was no evidence that any of it entered the river, he said.

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