Oil Spill Response and Restoration on the North Raccoon River, Iowa
Oil spill personnel discuss cleanup alternatives for an oiled gravelly
beach along the North Raccoon River.
Photo Credit by USFWS; Mike Coffey
The largest oil spill in Iowa occurred on September 13th, 2012, into the North Raccoon River. Several thousands of gallons of used motor oil discharged from a valve for a greenhouse heating system tank located in Jefferson, Iowa. The used motor oil flowed down a ravine and into the North Raccoon River. Several miles of sand bar beaches and side channels were oiled. The cleanup lasted a couple of weeks. Contaminants biologists from the Midwest Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assisted in the oil spill cleanup by providing technical expertise to the emergency response personnel.
The North Raccoon River is part of the Raccoon River watershed in central Iowa. It is a wild flowing river with many riffles, runs, pools, sand and gravel bars, and small side channels. The side channels are federally listed as Critical Habitat for the federally and State listed endangered Topeka shiner. The Topeka shiner is a headwater stream minnow that also uses floodplain wetlands in a number of tributaries to the North Raccoon River. The North Raccoon River serves as a corridor for dispersal and connectivity between the Topeka shiner populations in the tributaries. The river also provides foraging habitat for migrating shorebirds and other aquatic dependent migratory birds.
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