Train cars stuck in Spoon River may affect the environment

By Alyssa Donovan

September 17, 2013 Updated Sep 18, 2013 at 9:56 AM CDT

FULTON COUNTY -- A train headed from Good Hope to Peoria made an unexpected stop Monday evening at the bottom of the Spoon River.

A bridge collapse on Monday evening left six tank cars in the Spoon River.

The train was carrying corn syrup and a small amount is leaking into the river.

Environmental agencies plugged a larger leak but are concerned on how the corn syrup could affect the fish and wildlife.

“The concern is that if a large enough volume of it gets into the river it will degrade the oxygen out of the water and the fish and the wildlife need oxygen," Fish Biologist for the Department of Natural Resources Rob Sabeck said. "So they could get trapped in an area where they can't get away from it and then you have fish or aquatic life killed."

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency's Ralph Foster says at this point the corn syrup is the only contamination. There is not any diesel or petroleum in the water.

"Essentially they operate on air breaks," Foster said. "The engine was already by so we don't have to worry about the diesel from the engine and we don't think there's any petroleum or any other issues we need to worry about."

A spokesperson from the Keokuk Junction Railway says crews will be bringing in a crane and other heavy equipment to haul out the tank cars.

Lieutenant Doug Lafary from the Fulton County Sheriff's department says they will be monitoring the area to make sure sight seers do not get to close.

Lieutenant Lafary said, "There's still a danger maybe some cars moving they are afraid of anyone getting to close. So we've closed the access road and we're trying to keep people back as far as we can."

The bridge was inspected in the last few months and the spokesman for the railway says the cars did not exceed any weight limit.

The cause of the collapse remains under investigation.

Crews will be working for the next few days to remove the train cars.

As for the bridge right now it is unknown when it will be re-built.

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