Seward residents get IEPA test results from chemical plant - – Rockford’s News Leader

Seward residents get IEPA test results from chemical plant explosion

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Results are in. It's been three months since a Rockford area chemical plant blew up. People living around the plant want to know how this accident affects them and their environment. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency reveals those answers.

The Nova-Kem plant explosion shook the Village of Seward to its core. No one was hurt the day of the accident and the IEPA says it hasn't caused significant harm since.

"We haven't seen any sampling results that show any levels of concern yet." -says IEPA Emergency Response Office Engineering & Assessment Unit Manager Yeric Yarrington.

IEPA's lab analyzed soil, surface water and vegetation samples all from properties near the Nova-Kem site. Test results are normal so far, but the agency is asking Nova-Kem to evaluate more properties a few miles south, southeast and southwest of the Seward site.

"At the time of the fire, the plume had a lot of heat, so it rises first and then it travels off-site. The plume looked to be somewhere around 500 feet high. When it's that high, you'll have some deposition close by, but you'll have some deposition farther away because the heat carries the ash and smoke up and then it's carried in the wind direction." -says Carol Fuller, with the IEPA Community Relations Office.

The IEPA also wants Nova-Kem to do more on-site sampling of any possible chemical residue from the day of the accident, or from demolition of the buildings. Nova-Kem was permitted by the IEPA and Illinois Attorney General's Office to operate out of its Specialty Products building, manufacturing a yttrium lanthanum nitrate solution. Company representatives say it's a water-based, non hazardous product. They've been manufacturing it since the end of August. Per IEPA and IOAG instructions, Nova-Kem had to take precautions before starting production, like having the local fire department evaluate safety measures at the site, installing a fire alarm, and allowing the IEPA to periodically inspect and monitor operations. The product has to be completely shipped off-site by December 2013. If Nova-Kem wants to continue operating out of the Seward site after that, they need to consult the IEPA and IOAG.

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