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EcoSolutions Project News: Train Derailment Incident in Sibley, Iowa

Updated: Apr 24, 2023

Here at EcoSolutions, years of experience in Spill Prevention, Control & Containment (SPCC) has highlighted one inescapable fact: accidents happen. However, their impact on the world around us can largely depend on how we react to the situation. Earlier in 2021, our team demonstrated how our solutions can transform a chaotic incident into a contained and manageable situation following a train derailment incident in Sibley, Iowa.

EcoSolutions was involved in attending an emergency situation in Sibley, Iowa which took place shortly after 3pm on May 16th, 2021. Authorities were alerted of a train derailment and an associated fire started by a number of hazardous chemicals which were held in sixteen of the train’s cars. While the derailment was severe, fortunately no injuries were recorded as a result of the incident.

The Incident

Sibley, Iowa experienced a train derailment - an incident which is notably common in the United States. Indeed, it is estimated that a train carrying hazardous materials derails every two weeks in the US, with these incidents frequently leading to chemical spills.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received a notification regarding a train derailment incident, involving sixteen cars containing hazardous materials, many of which were consumed in the fire or spilled into the surrounding area. These hazardous materials included:

  • Potassium hydroxide;

  • Hydrochloric acid;

  • Ammonium nitrate;

  • Gasoline; and

  • Liquid asphalt.

Local officials immediately evacuated a five-mile radius around the derailment site which included portions of the City of Sibley. The incident was significant; involving nearly 48 cars of the train which was passing through the town.

While the incident thankfully involved no casualties, the impact of the incident was felt throughout the local community, with chemical spills reaching surrounding soiled areas and patches of land being burnt by the subsequent fire.

The EcoSolutions Response

The EcoSolutions team were proud to assist local authorities in tackling the incident in Sibley. Once the fire was extinguished, EcoSolutions got to site promptly in supplying HAZMAT teams.

Using our full logistical capacity, EcoSolutions visited the site day and night to deliver a range of Spill Prevention, Control and Containment solutions, including activated peat products which were used to absorb several contaminants. Here’s a short list of the solutions we supplied and how the contributed towards transforming the trail derailment into a manageable situation:

  • Activated Peat: Composed from 100% organic compounds, Activated Peat is an effective and totally natural solution to some of the most challenging problems posed by chemical spills. Resealable, eco-friendly and locking vapor in at an impressive rate of up to 90 percent, our Activated Peat bags were used as an absorbent. The train derailment required several Activated Peat bags which were sprinkled on surrounding water to absorb any and all harmful contaminants.

  • Booms: Constructed from durable materials, EcoSolutions’ supply of boom products played a significant role in containing the chemical spill. Used as absorbent, floating fences; our booms were used to contain the spill while preventing any floating debris from entering the area.

The Results

Thanks to the hard work of responders and the EcoSolutions delivery team, the train derailment at Sibley, Iowa was contained and resolved within a rapid timeframe.

  • No water contamination: The fast response and use of EcoSolutions products prevented hazardous materials from contaminating the nearby Otter Creek. The safety of Otter Creek following the incident was confirmed by the Department of Natural Resources.

  • Minimized disruption: While businesses were allowed to reopen the next day, local residents were permitted to return to their homes in a matter of hours.

  • Reduced environmental impact: In a review of the incident, the Environmental Protection Agency confirmed that there was no harm to the environment as a result of the incident.

Our Thoughts

“The EcoSolutions team joins local authorities in Sibley, Iowa in welcoming the fact that May’s train derailment incident incurred no casualties, and the work of first responders and contractors hired to clean up the spill here is to be commended. We were proud to assist them in dealing with this incident, supplying a number of natural solutions to minimize any environmental impacts as a result. On behalf of all of the team at EcoSolutions, we’d like to thank them for placing their trust in us.”

Got a Spill? Call on EcoSolutions

The effectiveness of our products at the Sibley train derailment site confirms that nature can solve many of the most perplexing problems posted by chemical spills. To prepare for chemical spills with our approved, environmentally-friendly products, contact us today.

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