ROCKTON (WREX) — Large flames and a plume of black smoke that can be seen for miles continue to pour out of the Chemtool Plant in Rockton, but the chemicals inside the plant are what concern the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and other state and local agencies.
“It all comes back to life safety,” said Alicia Tate-Nadeau, Director, Illinois Emergency Management Agency at a 5 p.m. press conference.
She mentioned a number of different chemicals inside the plant, including Lead, Nitrogen, Sulfuric Acid and “a few others.”
“Please understand this is one of the largest facilities in the nation that has different oils,” Tate-Nadeau added. “So, when there’s a bunch of different chemicals in there and one of the things the chief looks at is what is in there and how do they work together?”
Records obtained by 13 WREX show the plant holds Zinc, Sulfuric Acid, Nitrogen, Lead, Ethylene Glycol (antifreeze, as Tate-Nadeau said), and Diphenylmethane Diisocyanate.
The plant participates in the “Tier II” reporting system, and must report the chemicals it uses in an annual federal report, which is used by state and federal authorities to track and enforce rules related to how plants store materials.
“It also helps local authorities in the event of an emergency, such as a fire,” Governor JB Pritzker’s office said in a release sent Monday afternoon.
“I am monitoring this situation closely and will make all resources available to the surrounding communities as we work to keep people safe,” said Gov. Prtizker in a press release. “Teams from multiple state agencies are on the ground and coordinating closely with local authorities and we will continue to make additional information available as soon we have it. To those impacted, please listen to guidance from emergency officials and know that the state of Illinois is doing everything possible to protect you and your loved ones.”
As of Monday night, 18 air quality monitors are around the plant, according to Illinois EPA Director John Kim. He says wind direction and speed will give the EPA an idea on the effects those chemicals have on the air.
Winnebago County Health Department Public Administrator Dr. Sandra Martell suggests people wear a mask within a three-mile radius of the plant.