Nova-Kem CEO Apologizes to Seward Residents For June Explosion


SEWARD--Three months after a chemical explosion rocked the small town of Seward, more than 100 residents packed the Seward School gym to ask questions about what happened.

"I don't think any of us residents knew the dangerous type of chemicals that were being dealt there," said Sandi Milburn, a lifelong resident

Nova-Kem CEO Reno Novak apologized to residents for the explosion and the inconvienence of being evacuated from their homes for nearly two full days.

"It was a bad day for everyone," Novak told the crowd.

However, he tried to explain how the dangerous chemicals at the plant were.

"Dangerous is a relative word. is gasoline dangerous? Sure it is, under the wrong conditions," said Novak, who noted his involvement with the community by keeping a house just a few miles up the road in Pecatonica. "There (were) no harmful effects that we've been able to detect within the facility and the surrounding area."

Novak says his company is cooperating with state authorities and the Illinois EPA and the Attorney General's office are both expected to be on hand for the next meeting scheduled for September 11th at the school.

"We filed a risk management plan and an emergency plan which notifies all the agencies here of what we were doing and what we had at the site," Novak said.

Right now, the site has been cleaned up as empty slabs of concrete sit were the burned out buildings used to be. The company has yet to commit on rebuilding. If Nova-Kem does, rebuilding a relationship with Seward residents won't be easy.

"I'm sure they're going to try to make it right," said Karen Eickman. "I just hope they make it, right so that everything is safe."

"I really do not want them to set up operations in Seward Township," Milburn said.

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