- Associated Press - Monday, February 9, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Results from several monitoring stations along the Mississippi River show much of the ethanol that leaked into the water after several train cars derailed has dissolved, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said Monday.

DNR spokesman Kevin Baskins said the highest levels of ethanol have been detected nearest the site where 14 cars containing the fuel went off the tracks Wednesday in a steep, remote area north of Dubuque. Eight of the cars that derailed appeared to be leaking.

Baskins said the ethanol dissipated fairly quickly in the first mile downstream, with fuel levels virtually undetectable 10 miles from the site. He said an additional sampling site was set up over the weekend 130 miles south of the spill, but he said he’d be surprised if ethanol levels appeared that far downstream.

Baskins also said dissolved oxygen levels in the river appear normal so far, which he said is encouraging for the aquatic life in the area.

Officials say they’re still unsure how much ethanol spilled into the Mississippi, but Baskins said the approximately 55,000 gallons that remain unaccounted for burned off in the three cars that caught fire, pooled over an acre of ice, soaked into soil in the area and leaked into the river.

As water observation continues, Baskins said removing ethanol covering a section of ice remains a priority. He said thinning ice makes the fuel’s removal difficult, because the ice might not support the necessary equipment. Instead, Baskins said the DNR is considering using a compressor to blow air into the water to maintain dissolved oxygen levels as the ice keeps melting.

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