U.S. Chemical Safety Board Monitoring Chemtool Plant Explosion and Fire

United States Chemical Safety Board, June 15, 2021

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) is monitoring an explosion and fire event at the Chemtool plant in Rockton, IL that occurred June14, 2021 at 7:15 am CT.  All 70 workers in the facility were evacuated without injury.  One fire fighter suffered a minor injury and was transported to a local hospital for evaluation.  The facility manufactures petroleum-based lubricants. 

The CSB will continue to monitor the incident and tentatively plans to deploy a team to the area early next week to expand dialogue with Federal and State partners, to include EPA personnel, regional OSHA personnel and Fire/Emergency Management personnel. At this point assessments appear to indicate that the incident is a fire event and not a chemical process safety event.  Interviews with employees may provide more clarity to the events leading up to this incident and the potentially severe impacts to the community and environment warrant concern.

The air quality at ground level continues to be in the acceptable range.  The incident commander reported yesterday that the plan was to allow the volatiles to burn off since the facility is adjacent to the Rock River and there was significant concern surrounding release of firefighting water and suppression foam into the waterway.  This initial approach has been reassessed and the plan now is to berm and boom the access to the river and extinguish the remaining blaze. This may add an environmental impact element to the incident dynamic. 

Additional updates will be released as available.

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