Oddly parked barge derails coal train near Mississippi River

By: - November 15, 2021 12:55 pm

A coal train derailed Saturday near Montrose when it struck a river barge that was overhanging the railway. (Photo provided by Caroline Davis/Iowa DNR)

A coal train derailed late Saturday in far southeast Iowa when it collided with a barge that was parked at the edge of the Mississippi River and was overhanging a nearby railway, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The BNSF Railway train struck the barge about 11:50 p.m. near Montrose, which derailed two locomotives and several coal cars, two of which overturned into the river. No one was injured.

“We’re still trying to figure out how that came to happen,” said Caroline Davis, a DNR environmental specialist.

She said the U.S. Coast Guard is investigating the incident. The identity of the barge operator was not immediately available.

Two railcars with coal overturned into the Mississippi River in a Saturday night derailment near Montrose. (Photo provided by Caroline Davis/Iowa DNR)

About 1,400 gallons of diesel fuel leaked from one of the locomotives, and hundreds of gallons seeped into the Mississippi. There were no immediately noticeable effects from the spill — such as dead aquatic life — and workers used floating booms to contain the fuel. They were aided by favorable winds that pushed the diesel, which floats on water, toward the shoreline, Davis said.

An unspecified amount of coal spilled into the river from two railcars and was later removed by an excavator. The DNR is evaluating its impact on mussels on the riverbed.

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Jared Strong
Jared Strong

Senior reporter Jared Strong has written about Iowans and the important issues that affect them for more than 15 years, previously for the Carroll Times Herald and the Des Moines Register.