Alex Van Den Top and Emma Stoltzfus– Staff Writers
A bridge collapse right outside Alton, Iowa caused a Union Pacific train to derail over a flooded Floyd River in the early hours of Sep. 23. No injuries were reported to the Sioux County Sheriff’s Department.
An estimated 20-40 cars derailed, many spilling soybean oil and industrial sand into the river. The spill did not include hazardous chemical. This is the second train derailment in the Northwest Iowa area over the last few months. After heavy rains, BNSF train derailed near Doon, Iowa in June releasing around 230,000 gallons of oil into the Little Rock River.
Authorities are still investigating the cause for the recent derailment is still being investigated. Justin Jacobs, a Senior Director of Communications for Union Pacific, claimed the accident was weather related.
“Obviously, safety is our top priority in everything we do,” Jacobs stated in a phone interview, “We want to keep a close relationship with the National Weather Service in the area in order to prevent this from happening again. We want to get better moving forward. We are going to get better moving forward.”
Union Pacific’s website posted three days prior to the accident that floodwaters could potentially cover tracks between Sioux City and Alton and that trains would be rerouted. According to Jacobs, they had been given reports that Union Pacific ran additional inspection trains in the time between the initial post on Friday and the time of the derailment. Jacobs didn’t respond with specifics on future prevention of derailments, but ensured that Union Pacific would do everything they could to move in the right direction.
“If we’re going to take away anything we can do in terms of ‘lessons learned’ obviously were going to do that,” Jacobs said, “we’re always looking for new ways to enhance safety across our network.”