Chemtool debris washing up along Rock River


ROCKTON, Ill. (WTVO) — A week-and-a-half after explosions and fire destroyed the Rockton Chemtool chemical plant, the cleanup continues.

Much of the focus is on homes within a one-mile radius of the plant, but the debris reached far beyond the evacuation zone.

The Chemtool plant, at 1165 Prairie Hill Road, exploded on Monday, June 14th.

Mary Hafferkamp, a resident who lives three miles away along the banks of the Rock River, said when the water level dropped, she found chunks of debris along her shoreline.

“I went down to my backyard shoreline and found all sorts of debris and in the river – there was debris all along the river line,” she said. “I’m very concerned. Normally, we have a lot of baby ducks and geese down here. Everyday you see the mother with the babies, I have not seen them in a while.”

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency says there are no reports of contaminants in groundwater or in the Rock River. Chemtool says the debris removal company, Clean Harbor, will also pick up anything that comes out of the river.

Hafferkamp says that being able to see the debris is concerning to her.

“If people are fishing, and eating these fish which I see out here everyday, normally… Nobody’s out here, luckily, right now, as much as they were, but a lot of people fish here and I’m just concerned for their health,” she said.

Mary says she is glad that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources closed the river.

“I see a lot of kayackers and people coming down the river, and my concern is the safety of our community,” she said.

The river remains closed to watercraft while emergency personnel continue to work to extinguish the fire.

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