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Modern Plating reaches settlement with IL AG in Freeport chemical spill

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Freeport Chemical Spill 3 (Loop 9)

FREEPORT (WREX) — Modern Plating reaches a settlement with the state of Illinois after a chemical spill in January leaked thousands of gallons of hydrochloric acid from an above-ground storage tank.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul announced the settlement with the Freeport company Tuesday, which requires the Modern Plating to pay a $20,000 civil penalty, and to cease and desist from future violations.

The state filed a lawsuit against Modern Plating in February, alleging the company contributed to air and water pollution, conducted a hazardous waste disposal operation without a permit and dumped waste into an on-site pond.

The Jan. 14 chemical spill leaked approximately 4,800 gallons of the hazardous chemical, hydrochloric acid. The release also created a vapor cloud, which caused approximately 20 employees to be evacuated from the site. At least one person sought medical attention due to potential hydrochloric acid exposure.

“Today’s settlement ensures that Modern Plating implements procedures to protect workers and residents from future hydrochloric acid emissions and contamination,” Raoul said. “I will continue to work to protect Illinois residents by holding companies accountable for contamination that threatens public health and the environment.”

The consent order required Modern Plating to take action to prevent any future ruptures of the above-ground storage tank. Modern Plating must install a new bulk storage tank, piping system, scrubber and pressure relief system, and a new tank containment system for the tank storage area. The order also requires inspections of the tank and containment systems, as well as instituting rainwater removal processes. Modern Plating must also post additional signage with instructions for delivery drivers to follow during the transfer of hydrochloric acid to the storage tank.

Hydrochloric acid is a hazardous chemical that can cause burns to the body and additional burns and scarring to the nose, throat and respiratory tract when inhaled. Release of the chemical into streams, creeks and other water bodies can result in the death of fish and other aquatic life. Raoul’s lawsuit alleged that, following the January storage tank rupture that incurred when the delivery driver was filling the tank, hydrochloric acid reached an area of the site which connects to a small creek that drains into the Pecatonica River.

Breane Lyga

Breane Lyga is the content manager at 13 WREX. She joined the team in 2015 as the 5, 6 and 10PM news producer after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She was 13 WREX’s assignment editor from 2017 to 2018.

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