Nearly half of Iowa crude oil spill contained, BNSF says

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(Reuters) - Workers have contained nearly half of the crude oil spilled near Rock River in northwest Iowa over the weekend following a freight train derailment on Friday, BNSF Railway Co said.

About 100,000 gallons had been hemmed off using booms out of the estimated 230,000 gallons spilled, BNSF said in a statement on Saturday. The spill has raised concerns about drinking water downstream. The company did not respond to questions on Sunday about the progress of the cleanup.

No one was hurt in the derailment, in which 32 cars came off the rails, 14 of which leaked at least some of their contents, BNSF said. The derailment happened south of Doon, a city of a few hundred people. The cause has not been confirmed, although Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds attributed it to an intense storm and flash flooding in an emergency proclamation issued by her office on Saturday.

The spill threatened to contaminate drinking water for residents about 150 miles (240 km) downstream in Omaha, Nebraska.

Metropolitan Utilities District, which provides the Omaha metro area’s drinking water, said it was monitoring the spill. If needed, it would shift water pumping to two other water treatment plants, which are supplied by another river not connected to the spill, the utility said in a statement on Friday. The utility did not respond to a request on Sunday for an update on its monitoring.

BNSF, a unit of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, said it was using skimmers and vacuum trucks to clean up the spill and minimize damage to the environment. The spill posed no risk to workers or nearby residents, BNSF said.

Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Richard Chang