Some Angered At Re-Opening of Seward Chemical Plant

By: Jessica Geraci Email
By: Jessica Geraci Email

SEWARD (WIFR) -- Less than 24 hours after Seward homeowners packed into a crowded gym to hear the fate of a local chemical company, some say they feel mislead; the Illinois EPA announced Wednesday that Nova-Kem has the green light to re-open at a building on the same site as June’s explosion.

It's a move the company's owner says he just learned about on Wednesday, and one that’s made some homeowners very angry.
“I think he outta pay up, shut up, or get outta town," says Judith Anschutz.

Anschutz says she's furious that Nova-Kem's owner Reno Novak will be allowed to reopen his plant in Seward. It’s been shuttered since June when an explosion and fire forced hundreds to evacuate. Anschutz says the chemicals that were released killed large chucks of her lawn, several trees, and she wonders about the lasting impact on the health of all the neighbors in Seward.

“I am boisterous, I am angry, but not for myself, for the kids and the pets. Its night right and they shouldn’t be allowed to put another chemical on that property," says Anschutz.

The Illinois EPA says starting Thursday workers may use the remaining building on the property to produce yttrium lanthanum nitrate solution; a chemical the plant's owner says is used in polishing and sanding materials.

“It would have been nice to understand we were this close and we were waiting for a few last minute details and we'll be ready for operation," says Tari Woods.

Woods and her family live across the street from the plant. She says she was shocked to hear the facility is re-opening so soon and she hopes new and improved safety measures are in place in case of another emergency.

"We need to make sure there is an emergency 9-1-1, a business continuity plan from Reno's business. Accidents to happen, they're inevitable, we want it so we can get an emergency alert in the middle of the night."

Nova-Kem will only be allowed to produce the nitrate solution until the end of November and during that time, the work will be monitored by the IEPA. That agency will release findings about the environmental impact of the explosion at a meeting in September.

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