Rockton residents expect long road to recovery after Chemtool fire

Local News

ROCKTON, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockton residents continue to deal with the aftermath of Monday’s massive chemical fire.

Although an evacuation order–which was keeping some people from their homes– has been lifted, several families started off their weekend working to clean up their properties.

We caught up with one of them who they tell us they’re expecting a long road ahead.

Although they believe the worst of the situation is behind them, they’re expecting it will take weeks or even months to return to normal life

“There doesn’t seem to be any damage, pretty much just a little debris in the backyard. Other than that, same old place,” said Wayne Desjardin.

Rockton resident Wayne Desjardin says his mother and father-in-law were two of the people who were told to evacuate early Monday morning after they heard an explosion coming from the Chemtool plant.

“They said it actually rocked the house, it shook the house,” said Desjardin.

The couple spent five days in a hotel before finally returning to their home Saturday morning. Desjardin says although they are glad to be back, they’re now facing a lengthy clean-up process.

“Especially with the rain we had yesterday, I told my daughter who lives in the area to make sure she covered her gardens so that no debris that was on the leaves got into her garden and contaminated it,” said Desjardin.

“I am going to be cautious. I’m going to have to cut the grass here in the next day or two, and I’m going to be cautious and wear a mask when I do, cause I don’t know what’s in the grass. Even if they pick it all up, there’s still going to be particles there that are going to be chopped up finer.”

Officials have been testing the air quality in and around Rockton throughout the week and have not detected any chemicals. But Desjardin says he is still erring on the side of caution for now.

“I just told my mother in-law that she should probably just stay indoors for the next few days until more is known, just to be on the safe side, he added. “The other concern is that my in-laws here and other people on the street are on well water, what the implications are there with contamination.”

The EPA continues to test nearby groundwater wells for contamination but so far they have not detected any contaminants in the water.

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