Illinois EPA seeking court order for Nova-Kem to stop operations - – Rockford’s News Leader

Illinois EPA seeking court order for Nova-Kem to stop operations


The Illinois EPA has asked the Illinois Attorney General for an immediate injunction against Nova-Kem following a Sunday explosion at their Seward plant.

The IEPA wants the Attorney General to require a thorough investigation and clean up of all environmental violations associated with the explosion from Nova-Kem. The agency has also referred Nova-Kem to the Attorney General's office for several violations of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act, including causing or allowing air and water pollution hazards. However, the IEPA does say well water in Seward is safe to drink.

The IEPA is seeking a court order from the Illinois Attorney General's office requiring Nova-Kem to:

  • Give a complete inventory of all chemicals present at the facility
  • Conduct an incident investigation and write a root cause report
  • Propose a work plan to the agency to address site contamination
  • Propose a sampling program to the agency for off-site areas and bodies of water that may have been impacted by airborne particulate matter and chemical burn products within the two-mile evacuation zone
  • Stop all operations at the facility until the cause of the fire is determined and corrective measures put in place
  • Work with the community as directed by the agency
  • Reimburse the agency for its response, oversight, and review costs

Nova-Kem makes chemicals like hexachlorodisilane (HCDS) for memory devices and semi-conductors. Firefighters were unable to use water to fight the blaze Sunday because of the water-reactive nature of some chemicals in the plant. HCDS is highly corrosive if it is inhaled, ingested, or comes into contact with skin or eyes. Although there is not a full inventory of chemicals available, the plant did contain large chlorine tanks.

Prior to the explosion, Nova-Kem had a current operating permit from the IEPA Bureau of Air and had been in compliance.

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