Train carrying ethanol derails; no spills, but traffic is diverted on Illinois 9

GIBSON CITY — Traffic was diverted Thursday evening on a 1-mile stretch of Illinois 9 in Gibson City, around the scene of a train derailment near the One Earth Energy ethanol plant.

Three tanker cars, each containing about 28,000 gallons of ethanol, slipped off the railroad tracks near the plant about 2 p.m., said Bruce Kallal, Gibson City's fire chief.

Kallal said the cars were leaning, but there was no ethanol spill or leak, and no injuries were reported. The fire department and Ford County Emergency Management Agency were called as a precaution, Kallal said.

Also as a precaution, Kallal said, the Ford County sheriff's office and police and firefighters from Gibson City helped evacuate businesses near the derailment, including Solae, MCS Consulting and Alliance Grain.

A 1-mile stretch of Illinois 9 remained closed late Thursday afternoon, from Illinois 47 west to County Road 300 East. Traffic was being detoured around that area.

Kallal said he expects the road to re-open once the Norfolk-Southern Railroad sends crews to the scene later Thursday night to right the derailed train cars.

That is expected to happen in the next three to four hours, allowing the road to be re-opened by midnight, according to Gibson City Mayor Dan Dickey, who has been in touch with Steve Kelly, general manager of One Earth Energy.

Kelly did not immediately return a message requesting comment.

The cars were part of a 12-car train that was shipping ethanol from One Earth Energy, on the city's west side, Kallal said.

Officials from the Norfolk-Southern Railroad investigated the derailment and told Kallal that a broken rail caused it, Kallal said.

The derailment happened on the Norfolk-Southern line after the train left the ethanol plant heading east, according to Kallal.

"It happened across the highway (from the ethanol plant) on the south side of Route 9," Kallal said.

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