Company says materials burned in Chemtool fire are not a health risk


ROCKTON, Ill. (WTVO) ─ Lubrizol released a response Thursday morning, saying the materials that were burned in the Rockton Chemtool plant fire Monday do not pose a health risk.

The company states, “We are confident that the materials burned in the fire pose no health risk in the short or long-term, other than the short-term irritation one would normally experience in the presence of smoke.”

“During a fire of this magnitude, products will convert to their elemental form. [The] mix of the elements from Chemtool’s impacted materials (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, as examples), are elements we breathe and touch every day.”

Winnebago County Health Department Director Dr. Sandra Martell said during a press conference on Wednesday that evacuated residents must stay away from their homes until more test results come back from the EPA.

Martell said there are concerns about the composition of particulates which were blown out of the building and onto neighboring homes and yards. She said testing will determine if it is safe to mow lawns, turn on air conditioners, etc., without endangering residents’ health.

Martell did say air quality at ground level remains safe to breathe, and residents are no longer asked to wear masks. Individuals with underlying respiratory conditions should continue to wear masks, she said.

The WCHD hopes to have test results from the Environmental Protection Agency by Thursday morning.

Lubrizol also says a recent OSHA visit at the plant is unrelated to the explosion.

Representatives from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and Chemtool said they will continue to monitor the surrounding environment, including the air, the Rock River and ground water, for contaminants.

Lubrizol says it will continue to pay and provide benefits to employees impacted by the fire.

“We again want to affirm that we are providing our employees our full support,” the company said. “Pay and benefits will continue for employees while we work through this event, and we are providing counseling support for all those who want or need it. We expect to leverage many of our local employees during our recovery and clean up stage.”

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