Rock River near Rockton Chemtool site closed until further notice


ROCKTON – The River Rock near the site of the Chemtool fire remains closed until further notice.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources posted on its website that conservation police have determined that boating on the Rock River “is significantly dangerous to the public at this time.”

Recreational craft traffic is prohibited from the Rockton Dam in Winnebago County upstream to the Wisconsin border.

“At present, there are emergency personnel and workers in close proximity to the site; the closure is intended to help ensure the safety of emergency personnel, workers and the public while the emergency response. case of fire continues and clean-up work begins, ”IDNR said.

Floating booms, which are used on the river north of the Rockton Dam to prevent the spread or escape of any contaminants from the site of the massive June 14 industrial fire at Chemtool, as well as boats from the DNR and others equipments are staged in the river in this region.

After:Rockton lawyers are investigating whether Chemtool violated village codes after massive fire

“We’re just trying to keep recreational traffic away from this area,” said Rockton Fire Chief Kirk Wilson.

Neither the polyfluorinated alkyl substances, a fire extinguisher foam known as PFAS, nor any other product from the Chemtool site entered the waterway, Wilson said.

“Nothing like this is in the water,” he said. “There is no chemical runoff in the water.”

Wilson said four different environmental cleanup agencies are on site.

The July 4th weekend is less than two weeks away, a time when the Rock River is populated by many boating enthusiasts.

“It will reopen as soon as all personnel and equipment have been removed from the area,” said DNR captain Laura Petreikis. “I hope it won’t take that long, but I don’t have a definitive timeline.”

“We are just asking our residents to be patient,” Wilson said. “As soon as it opens, we will let everyone know.”

Chris Green: [email protected]; @chrisfgreen

“Forever Chemical” contained on the Chemtool website

Polyfluorinated Alkyl Substances, a fire extinguisher foam known as PFAS, is known as a “chemical forever” because it does not break down and can build up over time, causing adverse effects on human health.

According to the Agency for the Registry of Toxic Substances and Diseases, some studies on humans suggest that some PFAS may be associated with fertility issues, cholesterol, liver damage, changes in the immune system and increased risk of certain cancers such as testicular and kidney cancer.

The day after the Chemtool fire, approximately 3,200 gallons of PFAS foam were applied to the blaze by US Pump, a Louisiana-based industrial firefighting team with expertise in spill cleanup and was hired by Lubrizol to help put out the fire.

The company switched to a different fire extinguisher when the use of PFAS foam was brought to the attention of Fire Chief Kirk Wilson.

“As far as I know, everything was collected and placed in an on-site containment unit”, Wilson said. “As for where they take it, we don’t know where they are going take the product. “


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