IDNR closes Rock River between Rockton and Wisconsin


(WTVO) — The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has closed the Rock River from the Rockton Dam to the border of Wisconsin, starting Wednesday.

The IDNR says that navigation of the river is “significantly dangerous to the public at this time,” a week following the Chemtool chemical plant fire.

Until further notice, the area is closed to recreational boat traffic.

Eyewitness News reached out to the IDNR for clarification, and the agency responded by saying the closure is due to low water levels.

“At present, there are emergency personnel and workers near the site; the closure is intended to help keep both those emergency personnel, workers and the public safe as fire response continues and clean-up work begins,” the IDNR said in a later statement.

The Environmental Protection Agency has been analyzing air, water and soil samples for contaminants. Residents within a one-mile radius of the plant were evacuated out of precaution, but were allowed back in their homes on Friday.

Preliminary results of initial samples indicate no detection of semivolatile organic compounds, according to the Illinois EPA.

Health officials have declared the air safe to breathe, and Chemtool has said the materials that burned at the factory are not dangerous.

Two investigators from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board are being deployed to Rockton to determine the circumstances that led to last week’s Chemtool plant explosion.

According to the CSB, two senior leadership members will gather information at the site and make a recommendation on how to proceed.

The CSB will work “to determine the conditions and circumstances that led to the incident and to identify the cause or causes so similar incidents might be prevented.”

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