Train carrying ethanol derails in Iowa; one car catches fire
DUBUQUE, Iowa - Six railway cars carrying ethanol fuel derailed on Wednesday in a remote location north of Dubuque,Iowa, and at least one of them caught on fire, Canadian Pacific railway said.
There were no injuries or fatalities in the 11:20 a.m. accident involving an eastbound 81-car freight train, said Jeremy Berry, spokesman for the railway.
Berry said information on the crash was still preliminary as access to the location was difficult. He could not confirm reports in the Dubuque Telegraph Herald that three cars had caught on fire and three had fallen into the Mississippi River.
The incident is likely to add to the debate about transporting flammable goods by train after a series of fiery accidents involving crude oil cargoes in recent years.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has proposed new safety features for new tank cars transporting fuel and called for the phasing out of older cars considered unsafe.
The U.S. ethanol industry has pushed back on the new rules, saying regulators should distinguish between corn-based biofuel and crude oil.
Ethanol is less volatile than crude oil, is biodegradable and has a 99.997 percent rail safety record, according to the national Renewable Fuels Association.
Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw was not immediately available to comment on Wednesday's accident.
Last summer, he told Reuters his group supports additional regulations to strengthen railcar safety, especially measures that would help prevent accidents, but that new rules should take into account the differences between ethanol and crude oil.
Canadian Pacific's Berry said hazardous materials teams from the railway were going to the scene and would coordinate with local and state officials in investigating the incident.
The area around the accident was evacuated as a precaution, but there were no homes close by, the Telegraph Herald said, citing fire and emergency personnel.
Earlier reports had said the train was 11 cars long, but Berry said it was a much longer freight train.
That section of the Mississippi is frozen or near-frozen and there is no river traffic in the area.