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‘Not necessarily an impact of Chemtool fire’ Rockton water still contaminated

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ROCKTON (WREX) — Residents in the Blackhawk neighborhood still should not drink their water while the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency conducts further testing, according to the Winnebago County Health Department.

The Illinois EPA announced on Thursday that groundwater monitoring levels at the former Beloit Superfund site detected elevated metal levels.

"The monitoring wells did what they were intended to do," Dr. Sandra Martell with the Winnebago County Health Department said. Those wells were installed in the 1990s to monitor potential contaminations and alert the necessary authorities if elevated metals are found.

These sites are routinely monitored for volatile organic compounds (VOC), but the Illinois EPA expanded testing following the Chemtool fire as a precaution. The expanded testing found elevated metals.

Of the 20 monitoring wells sampled, elevated levels of metals were identified in 16 wells. The detected metals included antimony, cadmium, chromium and nickel in groundwater monitoring wells.

"It's not necessarily associated with Chemtool," Dr. Martell said because the source of the contamination is unknown.

The Illinois EPA conducted further testing at several homes in the Blackhawk neighborhood to understand the impact. Those results have not come back yet, but WCHD expects results to be back in several days.

Many homes in that neighborhood are connected to the Village of Rockton, but anyone who is using their private wells should not ingest it.

"We understand this is hard information for this community to process," Dr. Martell said. "We told you to stay safe in your homes, then get out, now you're back in but you can't drink your water."

Illinois EPA has posted the final groundwater monitoring well sample data on the Agency’s website on both the Beloit Corporation and the Chemtool page.

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Jena Kleindl

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