Local Departments Participate in Ethanol Emergency Drill

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Ambulances and fire trucks descended on the Adkins Ethanol Plant Saturday morning as part of a simulated ethanol accident. The exercise was designed to teach firefighters and HAZMAT crews how to act in the event of a real ethanol emergency.

"The Lena Fire Department received a call at approximately 8:20 this morning for a chemical spill at Adkins Energy. Upon the dispatch, Lena Fire immediately went to a fifth alarm box call. What that did is enabled Jo Daviess HAZMAT teams to bring along numerous equipment in the event the scene is larger than anticipated," said Pearl City Fire Chief Brent Schneider.

Now as in real life, responding to a simulated scenario required a unified communication effort. And while there were some glitches along the way, fire department officials say they were relatively minor.

"That's why we're here training this morning, to identify problems and figure out how to fix them," said Rock City Fire Chief Delbert Fiene.

The Stephenson County Health Department director says while the chemicals at the plant are dangerous, precautions are taken to ensure they're handled safely.

"These chemicals can be toxic to humans. However, they take a lot of safeguards. There's always a lot of safety around here," said Craig Beintema, Director of the Stephenson County Health Department.

Unlike oil spills, ethanol spills are not an environmental hazard. Firefighters are able to control the spill by dousing it with water.