Raoul, Hanley order clean-up provisions in Chemtool lawsuit

Winnebago County relays results of Chemtool survey
Winnebago County relays results of Chemtool survey(WIFR)
Published: Apr. 25, 2022 at 5:18 PM CDT
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CHICAGO, Ill. (WIFR) - Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Winnebago County State’s Attorney J. Hanley announced an agreed interim and preliminary injunction order in their lawsuit against Chemtool, Inc. otherwise known as Chemtool.

The order was entered Monday by the Winnebago County Circuit Court and lays the framework for the cleanup from a massive fire at the manufacturing facility in Rockton, June 2021.

Under the order, Chemtool must reimburse Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois Emergency Management Agency, and Winnebago County for their costs in responding to the six-alarm fire, which burned for several days, caused explosions and resulted in evacuations of area residents.

“As the cleanup and investigation of this fire continue, it is paramount that Chemtool is held responsible for the damage that has been caused,” Hanley said. “I continue to be grateful for the work of the Illinois EPA and Attorney General Raoul to ensure this process continues to prioritize the protection of area residents and our environment.”

Chemtool’s Rockton plant manufactures grease, lubricating oil and fluids, and more than 4 million gallons of crude oil were stored at the facility at the time of the fire- close to residences and the Rock River. According to Raoul and Hanley, large volume of petroleum product stored on-site have been compromised by the fire and pose a significant threat to land and the river.

On the morning of June 14, a fire engulfed Chemtool’s Rockton facility, causing multiple explosions and thick black smoke that could be seen for miles. Businesses and residents within a 1-mile radius of the facility were evacuated for health and safety concerns; residents within three miles of the facility were told to exercise caution by wearing masks. Several fire departments in Illinois and Wisconsin responded to the fire, which burned for days.

The evacuation order was lifted on June 18.

Raoul says the order will ensure the cleanup process happens within the guidelines of the law, holding Chemtool responsible for the full extent of the environmental damage caused..

“Given the volume of hazardous materials involved in the fire and the amount of debris, it is vital that cleanup and remediation is done in accordance with environmental laws for the health and safety of all Rockton-area residents,” he said.

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