Chemtool Settles Plant Fire Suit

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Chemtool Settles Plant Fire Suit
A volunteer firefighter connects a hose to help fight a fire at Lubrizol Corp.'s Chemtool plant in Rockton, Illinois. © Andy Manis/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Live News

People living within a three-mile radius of the Chemtool plant in Rockton, Illinois, may be eligible for a U.S. $94.5 million settlement if they were impacted by a fire at the plant three years ago.

In June 2021, contractors from Holian Insulation Co., of Spring Grove, Illinois, struck a pressure tap with a scissor lift. This sent hot oil back to a grease cooking kettle causing a leak that led to the blaze. No employees were injured but the plant was completely destroyed and local property damaged.

Chemtool did not admit wrongdoing but did agree to pay the settlement. According to an ongoing class action lawsuit, residents were forced to pay for the cleanup of smoke and debris. This, claimants, say this incurred property value losses and disruption to business.

A year after the fire, local health officials conducted a survey that found 60% of residents said their health had deteriorated since the blaze. Common ailments were congestion, mucus, headaches, coughing and eye irritation. The remaining 40% said they’d experienced not ill-health effects since.

“Now we kind of have to take this into perspective. It’s not causal, it’s their self-report, its association,” said Dr. Sandra Martell a Public Health Administrator for Winnebago County Health Department to local media.

Lubrizol Corp. is the parent company of Chemtool, and until is was razed the plant was one of the biggest lubricant, grease and fluids production facilities in the world.

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