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Environmentalists Calling for Change in Transportation Methods Following NW Iowa Ethanol Train Detrailment

A train derailed and caught fire in Palo Alto County. (WHO-HD)

GRAETTINGER, Iowa  —  More than 15,000 gallons of ethanol leaked into a creek in Northwestern Iowa following last week’s massive train derailment and gasoline explosion.

On Monday, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources pulled the remaining three cars from Jack Creek. Officials say 27 of the 101 train cars, which were carrying ethanol, derailed and caught fire Friday in rural Palo Alto County. The cars burned until Sunday forcing an evacuation for residents living nearby.

Environmentalists are speaking out about the way hazardous materials are transported.

“I know some people like to say ‘we prefer trains over pipelines or pipes over trains,’ but the bottom line is neither way is a good way when transporting something so dangerous. Had that derailment happened in a town and that fireball happened right on Main Street, that would have been catastrophic,” says Ed Fallon, Executive Director of Bold Iowa.

Fallon says the best thing to do with fossil fuels is to keep them underground, adding the government should focus more on utilizing wind and solar energy.

“The technology keeps getting better. We are there and we can do it, but it’s just the political will that’s missing,” he says.

As ethanol breaks down in the water it can cause oxygen levels to decrease. The DNR says water monitoring has showed normal dissolved oxygen level and it appears that the waters wildlife will not be affected.

The DNR says it will continue to monitor the area.