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On Monday, June 14, 2021, there was a large fire at Chemtool Incorporated, a manufacturer of petroleum-based lubricants in Rockton, IL lasting more than one week requiring the evacuation of a 1-mile radius from the facility. All workers at the facility were safely evacuated. A Disaster Proclamation was issued for Winnebago County to support response efforts. Click here to view the Emergency Declaration

Disclaimer: The Winnebago County Health Department (WCHD) webpage related to the Rockton Chemtool Fire contains several links, referenced sites, and data, which are for informational purposes only. Different resources related to the Rockton Chemtool Fire are contained herein and are available to visitors of this site. They are to be used at your discretion. WCHD is not responsible for the availability, content, or use of such links, attachments, or referenced sites. The information provided on this webpage does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.

Cause

The US Chemical Safety Board is the independent federal agency responsible for investigating industrial chemical accidents and was on scene to conduct an initial investigation.

Evacuation and Return

Those that lived within 1 mile of the facility were asked to evacuated the area due to immediate safety concerns at the time of the fire. A shelter was established by the Red Cross at a nearby school for those that needed a place to stay. Masks were recommended for those within 3 miles of the fire when outside at the peak of the event due to concerns with air quality and particulate matter. The Rockton Police Department provided updates through their alerts. Click here to view these alerts.

When those within the evacuated area returned to their homes, precautions to protect their health were provided. Click here for Guidance on Returning Home.

Sampling

Air, water, and land samples were taken at the time of the fire by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) with support from the Illinois National Guard.

The USEPA began mobile air monitoring in areas around the fire on June 14. The USEPA mobile air monitoring in areas around the fire was measured against a 1-hour Public Health Screening Level established by the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Ash and debris (particulate matter) visibly impacted homes and areas in proximity to the fire the USEPA’s mobile monitoring found elevated particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) at some of its stations for several sampling periods in the first days after the fire. Click here for the USEPA Chemtool Fire results. As the fire was brought under control, air quality improved.

The IEPA took water and land samples. The results of the water samples are posted on the Illinois EPA’s webpage.

For those samples taken on private property, the Illinois Department of Public Health provided a health interpretation directly to the property owner.

Health Impacts

When an event like this large fire occurs, it is important to assess the impact on the health of the community. The Winnebago County Health Department requested the assistance of the Illinois Department of Public Health who brought in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct a community assessment. The assessment involved a community wide survey which could be completed online or in person. The original suvey was conducted within 2 months after the fire, with a follow-up survey approximately 1 year later. In addition to the human impacts, those with pets and/or livestock received a follow-up survey to assess the impact.

Click here to view the update on the survey.

Click here to download the presentation slides.

Click here to learn more.