Chemtool parent company claims ‘no health risk’ from burned materials; public health officials say risk still unknown

Rockton Fire Foam

ROCKTON, Ill. — The parent company of the chemical plant near the Illinois-Wisconsin border that has been burning all week claims there is “no health risk” posed by the burning materials. The Winnebago County Health Department says it’s too early for WCHD to make a risk determination about health.

In a statement released Thursday morning, Chemtool parent company Lubrizol says its own team of health and safety experts finished a “thorough evaluation of every Chemtool material burned” and say they are confident there will be no short-term or long-term health effects from the fire, other than short-term irritation from smoke inhalation.

Public health officials, however, say the health risk isn’t known yet.

“Data on the chemical composition of the debris/waste is still in process and monitoring of air and water quality is ongoing. Hazards and health impacts are unknown at this time,” a spokesperson for the county health department told News 3 in an email. “We will be analyzing the data as it is received and providing information to the public.”

Lubrizol says it has provided a list of products and ingredients that were in the plant at the time of the fire to local authorities.

The EPA is continuing to monitor air quality levels in the area 24 hours a day, and health officials said Wednesday air quality was stable enough for them to remove a mask order for anyone within three mile sof the Rockton plant.

However, health officials are still trying to determine what burned in the fire and what makes up the debris that fell in areas surrounding the plant. As of Thursday morning, people living within one mile of the plant have still been kept out of their homes.

An industrial firefighting team has been on scene for the last few days, putting environmental safeguards like absorbant booms in the Rock River and digging trenches before spraying fire-suppressing foam to put out the remaining fire.

The fire started around 7 a.m. Monday. A cause has not yet been determined.