Rockton man performing his own environmental tests following Chemtool disaster

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ROCKTON, Ill. (WTVO) — Despite an all clear from federal, state and local health officials, a Rockton resident says he’s taking it upon himself to do independent environmental testing following the June 14th Chemtool plant explosion.

Dan Enderle said it’s not about trust, but about holding both Chemtool and the Environmental Protection Agency accountable for releasing information following the disaster.

“We feel like if we don’t do the data or the research ourselves, is Chemtool gonna be interested enough to do that for us? And, is it going to be in their interests, over ours?” asked Enderle.

Enderle lives two miles from the Chemtool plant, at 1165 Prairie Hill Road. On the morning on June 14th, the plant caught fire and exploded, sending smoke and debris into the sky for miles. Residents within a one-mile radius of the plant were evacuated for five days while the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency conducted tests of the air, soil, Rock River and ground water.

Ultimately, federal, state and local officials found no traces of hazardous chemicals above toxic levels. The cause of the explosion was ruled as accidental by the Rockton Fire Department.

Enderle took samples of the soil in his own yard, as well as bagged debris, to do his own research.

“It’s our community and we want to know what’s going on,” Enderle said. “We want to know what’s falling in our yards, what’s in our soil, what’s in our air.”

Enderle says he plans to get the samples tested in an independent lab.

“I’m trying to find different universities that would be testing the different samples at a reasonable price, because sometimes they can be pricey,” Enderle said.

Jillian Neece is an AmeriCorps member with the Severson Dells Nature Center with an environmental research background. She said, “I think everyone should have that right to look at it themselves and make informed decisions about it. When you speak at a level that a lot of people can’t understand, there immediate response is fear. And, if you can’t understand something, you might think someone is deceiving you.”

Neece has been explaining the EPA data in simpler terms to those who live nearby the factory.

“I’m making sure the people in this community can understand it better. I think it helps them make their own decisions on how they think the data should be interpreted,” she said.

Enderle says he’s using Neece’s information to determine his safety.

“We just want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to protect our families, our pets and ourselves,” he said.

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