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Air and water quality not impacted by Chemool fire

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Chemtool fire 2021 2

CHICAGO (WREX) — Samples collected at the Chemtool site have confirmed air and water quality have not been impacted by the fire and the efforts to extinguish it.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), along with members from the Illinois National Guard (ILNG), have taken a variety of samples including ash, wipe, runoff, and river samples from around the site of the fire as well as in the immediate area. 

All but one sample, a wipe sample located in close proximity to the Chemtool property, tested below the residential exposure limit. Illinois EPA also collected samples from various locations in the community water supply following the fire.

Each of the wells used as source water for Rockton residents were sampled, along with the finished water storage tank located adjacent to the fire.

All samples were found to be in compliance with applicable drinking water and groundwater samples. No negative impacts to the community water supply were identified.

Water Samples

Water sampling was conducted to determine whether runoff from the incident resulted in water quality impacts to the Rock River.  Only one sample on the Rock River exceeded Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPCB) water quality standards, which has been documented by Illinois EPA. The increased level of carbon disulfide would decrease through streamflow. All sample results and further descriptions of sampling are available on the Illinois EPA website at

Air Samples

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began collecting air samples in the incident area on June 14.  The U.S. EPA established a website for its Chemtool response work, including air quality data, which can be found at

Health Impacts

Illinois EPA has worked with the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Winnebago County Health Department to provide sampling information in an effort to provide further guidance to the public on any potential health impacts.

“As our investigation continues, Illinois EPA remains committed to community residents and local leaders as we look to the remediation phase of this devastating fire,” said Illinois EPA Director John Kim. “Illinois EPA is also working closely with Attorney General Raoul’s Office to ensure the full impact of this fire is documented and the company implements an approved plan to remove any hazardous material from the site.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has brought in experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (CDC/ATSDR) to augment the efforts of the local health department to monitor and identify potential health effects as a result of the fire.

RELATED: Impacted by the Chemtool fire? Winnebago Co. Health Department launches Health Impacts Survey

 Residents are encouraged to complete this survey, or call the established hotline (815-972-7300), to help health officials better serve the community following this event.  The local health department asks that the survey be completed by July 15.

Chemtool has offered to reimburse residents for personal expenses and coordinated debris removal services. The IEPA has referred the case to the Illinois Attorney General for legal action against the company. 


This referral cites violations of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act and Illinois Pollution Control Board regulations related to chemical fire and release of pollutants to the atmosphere.

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Andrew Carrigan

Andy Carrigan is the Social Media & Digital Content Manager at WREX. He joined the 13 WREX team as a photographer in 2016 after graduating from Northern Illinois University.

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