This site will be continually updated with information regarding the fire at the Chemtool Facility in Rockton, Ill on Monday, June 14. We are devastated by the impact of this incident to our employees and the surrounding community. We will continue to provide transparent updates as we work collaboratively with local, state and federal partners to investigate the source of the fire and take the immediate necessary steps forward.
8/9/21 11:45 a.m. CDT
Chemtool teams and leaders throughout the company continue in our commitment to support the Rockton community, cooperate with local and state authorities and assist our employees. We are committed to continued, transparent updates as we move forward and offer the following insights today:
- Site Cleanup – We are preparing a site cleanup plan which will be reviewed with appropriate agencies. Once these plans are approved and finalized, cleanup will proceed in phases. Examples of cleanup work may include deconstruction of remaining structures, the safe removal of materials from the site, and further on-scene investigation. Expert excavators, deconstruction specialists, and project managers will be involved. Waste and debris will be properly disposed in accordance with all regulatory requirements.
- Testing – Illinois EPA and public health authorities have conducted a variety of testing. These organizations shared their results during a press conference on July 13th, in which they confirmed that their findings thus far have shown no cause for concern. EPA test results also did not identify risk from the fire to the community water supply or private wells.
Regarding on-site well testing, the agency’s latest update reflected testing of historical monitoring wells on the Chemtool site—not wells in the community. We are committed to a thorough and responsible site cleanup.
- Community Support – We will continue to quickly process requests for reimbursement from first responders, businesses and residents for expenses tied to the fire. Claim forms remain available on our website under Reimbursement Forms, and a toll-free hotline is available to address any questions. Where claimants have provided supporting documentation, we have approved claims in 1-3 days and issued payments within approximately a week.
- Employee Support – We continue to provide Chemtool employees full pay and benefits while we work to support their successful transition to new employment. To date, more than 30% of impacted employees have been placed in new opportunities within Lubrizol or with outside organizations. To enable a successful transition, we held a career fair, and offered resume support, interview workshops and career counseling. We continue to offer a placement bonus for employees who accept a role outside of the company as a thank you for their years of service and encouragement for the path ahead.
We will continue to share information with the community as updates are available and warranted.
7/08/21 10:30 a.m. CDT
As we continue to move forward from the fire at the Chemtool facility, we remain focused on supporting the local community and employees that have been affected. As part of our ongoing commitment, we offer this update on the latest progress:
- Site Update – We have begun to outline the scope of site cleanup, and these plans will be reviewed and executed in collaboration with the proper local and state organizations.
Relative to the cause of the fire, Rockton Fire Protection District’s initial investigation determined that the fire was most likely caused when a pipe or valve was struck by a scissor lift as a contractor replaced insulation on an elevated heat transfer piping network. The full Rockton Fire Protection District press release can be found here. While our initial findings are consistent with this summary, we are developing a plan to assess the area where reports suggest the fire began once the scene is available to do so.
- Employee Support – We are continuing to provide full support to our employees while we determine our long-term strategy. While we continue to offer full pay and benefits to employees, we also understand near-term realities will limit the availability of steady employment at the site. With those realities in mind, we are working to place the site’s employees in new opportunities.
- On July 1, we hosted a job fair with 16 area employers. On average, employees attending the event left with two secured interviews. Following the event, we provided information on all of these potential employers to our employees and will continue to support them in their pursuit of any roles of interest.
- We have completed resume and interview workshops to support all employees and will provide other tools, such as computer access, to those who need it.
- This week, as part of our transition benefits, we announced a new initiative that will provide a placement bonus for employees who accept a role outside of Lubrizol as a thank you for the years of outstanding support and service and encouragement for the path ahead.
- Community Support – We want to reaffirm our commitment to the residents of the Rockton community. We welcome questions from the community and will be here as we clean up safely and efficiently.
- Debris Removal and Surface Cleaning – We continue to work with Clean Harbors to remove fire-related debris from yards and complete outside surface cleaning as swiftly as possible. To date, we have paid visits to all residents who have requested assistance. We are committed to providing this service as long as it’s needed. This service has helped hundreds.
- Reimbursements – We are continuing to reimburse individuals and businesses for expenses tied to the fire. Where claimants provide supporting documentation, we have been approving claims in 1-3 days and issuing payments within approximately a week. We encourage residents and businesses to seek reimbursements via the claims forms and processes outlined on our website.
We will continue to share information regarding site cleanup, community and employee support as updates are available.
6/23/2021 10:30 a.m. CDT
As we move forward from the fire at the Chemtool facility, our focus is ensuring the community is safe and that residents of Rockton can feel comfortable and assured that their health and the health of their families is not at risk. Understandably, the Rockton community is looking for answers, and residents have raised questions about what was burned in the fire, firefighting materials, containment methods, debris removal and sampling results. Here is some additional information:
- Firefighting Foam -- We know there have been questions raised about the firefighting foam and its impact on community and environmental health. The foam applied to suppress the fire was used in a diluted form.
- Fluorinated foam was used in the early stages of firefighting efforts for a limited time given the heightened risk of letting the fire burn and spread. This closely monitored foam was limited to a portion of the site, backed by a containment plan. Fluorinated foam is twice as effective as non-fluorinated foam in suppressing a fire like the one we experienced and offered the best chance to control the fire in the shortest amount of time.
- Before any foam was applied, Lubrizol and US Fire Pumps teams instituted measures to contain these materials. This included digging containment trenches around the property, applying absorbent materials and vacuuming foam and water into industrial storage tanks for appropriate disposal.
- We continue to run tests of the soil and water to further validate the effectiveness of the containment measures.
- Ongoing Testing -- Importantly, Local EPA, public health authorities and multiple third-party experts are conducting air sampling in the area to monitor this event. To date, these analyses do not show negative health risk other than the short-term irritation one would normally experience in the presence of smoke. We hope these results give residents peace of mind, but the work does not stop here. We are fully committed to ongoing testing.
- Debris Removal -- We understand residents’ expectation to have fire-related debris removed from their yards and surfaces of their properties cleaned as swiftly as possible. We have been working with Clean Harbors to ensure they can service as many residents as efficiently as possible.
- This service has already helped hundreds, and we expect remaining calls logged to-date will be serviced by the end of the week. When a resident calls the Clean Harbors hotline, the call is logged and placed on the service list. Residents need only call once. We will continue to provide this service as long as it’s needed.
- All fire-related debris collected by Clean Harbors will be sent to an EPA approved facility for disposal in accordance with all regulatory requirements.
- Resident-Directed Cleaning – Clean Harbors is available to all for debris removal and some clean-up. In addition, residents can follow self-cleaning recommendations put forth by the Health Department and use household degreasing soap or cleaners for safe cleaning.
We continue to work in close collaboration with all local, state and national authorities. In the coming weeks and months, we will be sharing information on the next stage of site clean-up. We know this is a period of concern and frustration and we sincerely apologize for the disruption. We will continue to provide support to the Rockton community to help our neighbors recover.
6/17/2021 6:30 a.m. CDT
ROCKTON, Illinois -- As previously expressed, we are devastated by the fire at our Chemtool Rockton site and regret the disruption to area residents. As we continue to work with local, state and federal organizations, we want to provide an update on the following topics:
- Health and Safety: Understandably, questions have been raised about the materials burned in the fire. Our health and safety experts have completed a thorough evaluation of every Chemtool material burned. We are confident that the materials burned in the fire pose no health risk in the short or long-term, other than the short-term irritation one would normally experience in the presence of smoke
During a fire of this magnitude, products will convert to their elemental form. This infographic details the mix of the elements from Chemtool’s impacted materials (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, as examples), which are elements we breathe and touch every day.
- EPA Referral: We have not seen a formal document but will of course work with state and federal regulators to address the concerns raised in the referral. This would include working to address any pollution issues as we have since this incident began and executing a site clean-up once the fire has been extinguished.
- Debris Clean Up and Community Support: We have contracted with Clean Harbors to provide removal of fire-related debris. Residents can call 877-552-8942 to request this service or find out more information. This number has been posted on the Winnebago County Health Department, as well as our response site www.Lubrizol.com/Rockton. Clean Harbors reports that they’ve heard from a variety of residents. Residents leaving a message need only do that once. All calls will be logged and returned.
In addition this effort, and our to-date support of the North Western Illinois Red Cross and the Northern Illinois Food Banks, we have also made a donation to the Rockton Lions Club.
- Request for Reimbursement: For requests for reimbursement for personal expenses tied to the evacuation, such as hotel stays, leverage this claim form.
- Employee Support: We again want to affirm that we are providing our employees our full support. Pay and benefits will continue for employees while we work through this event, and we are providing counseling support for all those who want or need it. We expect to leverage many of our local employees during our recovery and clean up stage.
- OSHA: There have been some reports of a recent OSHA visit. These two events are unrelated.
We again want to thank the first responders, safety forces and all organizations responding to this incident. We are grateful for your actions and will continue to provide our support.
6/15/2021 11:00 a.m. CDT
ROCKTON, Illinois -- Lubrizol continues to support local, state and federal authorities in their response to the fire at our Chemtool plant in Rockton. Yesterday, Lubrizol secured and activated US Fire Pump, a third-party, specialty emergency response team with a proven track record, to travel to Rockton for support in extinguishing the fire. Those resources are working actively with local teams, including deploying fire-fighting foam to suppress the fire.
We are providing our full support to our local employees. Pay and benefits will continue for employees while we work through this event, and we are providing counseling support for all those who want or need it. We do expect a total loss of the site.
We regret the impact on our neighbors and also are committed to supporting the community. We are working to determine the best ways to support our neighbors who evacuated or were affected. We have committed support to the North Western Illinois Red Cross and the Northern Illinois Food Banks.
Finally, we continue to work with experts and government agencies on environmental air and water monitoring. As we affirmed yesterday, to-date test results do not show any health risk other than the short-term irritation one would normally experience in the presence of smoke. We do not expect any short or long-term health impacts otherwise.
The following is a recording of comments delivered by Vice President of Operations, Bill Snyder, at the June 15 morning press conference (Video Source:13 Eyewitness News WTVO/WQRF).
6/14/2021 4:00 p.m. CDT
ROCKTON, Illinois -- Additional specialized emergency response resources have arrived at our Chemtool site in Rockton, Illinois. They will be diligently working alongside local emergency response to extinguish the fire and limit the impact on the community. We will provide an update as soon as the fire has been extinguished. We do not have an estimate on timing at this juncture.
The precautionary evacuation of residents in a one-mile radius of the site remains in effect, under the direction of local emergency response. Lubrizol health and safety experts are completing a thorough analysis of all materials burned. We are working with third-party experts and government agencies on environmental air and water monitoring. We are not aware of any test results that show health risk other than the short-term irritation one would normally experience in the presence of smoke. We will continue to complete additional testing and have released all product data information to local authorities.
The Chemtool site has been safely operating in Rockton since 2008, employing ~200 employees who support manufacturing of industrial fluids and finished greases used in a variety of lubrication applications. As previously confirmed, the team members on site at the onset of the fire exited the facilities safely without injury.
We will work with local authorities to assist them in determining the cause of the fire. We regret the disruption to area residents and are grateful to our employees, first responders and safety forces who have responded to this incident.
6/14/2021 10:00 a.m. CDT
ROCKTON, Illinois -- At approximately 7 a.m. today, local emergency personnel responded to a fire at the Lubrizol Corporation’s Chemtool Facility in Rockton, Ill. We have confirmed all on site are safe and accounted for. Our concern right now is for the safety of all our employees and the surrounding community. As a precaution, authorities have evacuated residents in a one-mile radius of the site.
We do not yet know what caused this incident, but we will be working with local authorities and with our own risk management team to determine what happened and identify any corrective actions. We will share more details as they are known.
We are grateful to our employees, first responders and safety forces responding to this incident.