Environmental Fallout from Train Derailment

Posted: December 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Personal Injury, Train Accident | Comments Off

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Bureau County State’s Attorney Patrick Herrmann are suing Iowa Interstate Railroad Ltd. over the Oct. 7 train derailment near Tiskilwa.  Train cars filled with ethanol caused the subsequent explosion from that accident. Portions of Tiskilwa were evacuated due to the fireball and fear of foul air.  Some residents were allowed back into town later that day while the eastern portion of the town opened the following day.

The suit alleges environmental violations occurred in the aftermath of the derailment, in which nine tank cars carrying ethanol caught fire.  Most of the ethanol was burned in the aftermath but there are some concerned that some ethanol may have seeped into the water supply.

Madigan and Herrmann jointly filed the documents Monday in Bureau County Circuit Court, asking the court to order Iowa Interstate Railroad to submit reports to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency as the investigation of possible air, water and soil pollution continues.

In addition to filing the three-count suit, Madigan and Herrmann requested, and the court entered, an order to ensure that while the lawsuit proceeds, Iowa Interstate works with the state to conduct a thorough investigation and cleanup.

“With an ethanol spill of this magnitude, we must ensure that the proper steps are taken to clean up the area and protect the public’s health and safety during that process,” Madigan said in the release. At least three drinking water wells are located in the vicinity of the derailment site in addition to Plum Hollow Creek and Big Bureau Creek, which eventually flow into the Illinois River.

About 10 of the 26 derailed tank cars contained 30,000 gallons of denatured ethanol each. Nine of the overturned cars caught fire, which consumed much of the ethanol, but authorities believe an unknown quantity seeped into the soil.  With catastrophes of this enormity, it is important to exercise caution as the citizens of Tiskilwa.  When that safety is compromised, it might be time to contact an Illinois personal injury lawyer.