Cargill watching ice jam's effect on Cedar Rapids soybean processing plant

High water interrupting local operations for Canadian National, others

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March 28, 2014 | 12:41 pm

The owner of a soybean processing plant near downtown Cedar Rapids is keeping track of the impact of  water from an ice dam-swollen Cedar River covering railroad tracks serving the facility.

Mark Klein, a spokesman for Minneapolis-based Cargill, said the company is aware of the potential impact of shipping products from the plant at 410 C Ave. NE.

"We're still processing soybeans at the plant and keeping an eye on the rail situation," Klein said. "Rail is how we ship out processed soy oil. Soybeans come in by truck, and soy meal primarily goes out by truck.

"We're watching the situation and seeing where it goes from here."

Patrick Waldron, a Canadian National spokesman, said the high water is interrupting local operations.

"That does include service to some customers," Waldron said. "We are working with other railroads to get to customers where possible, but we can't get to everybody so there is some local disruption.

"We will continue to watch the situation, but we really don't have an estimate of when full operations will resume."

Calls seeking comment from Pepsico, corporate parent of Quaker Oats in Cedar Rapids, about potential shipping delays were not returned at press time. Quaker constructed flood protection for its Cedar Rapids plant at 418 Second St. NE after the June 2008 flood caused extensive damage to the facility.

Justin Foss, a spokesman for Alliant Energy, owner of the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway (CRANDIC) said the railroad has not experienced any problems due to the flooding.

Foss said Alliant's Interstate Power and Light subsidiary shut off power to the Ellis Boat Harbor area early Wednesday.

"We received a call informing us that the water was getting close to the meters," Foss said. "We will be checking 30 to 40 meters after we are able to get back into the area.

"We're not sure if any meters were exposed to water, so we will check them before restoring power."

New electric meters and wiring were installed at Ellis Boat Harbor after the June 2008 flood. If any meters need to be replaced, the utility will replace them and spread the cost over all its customers.

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