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Chemtool Fire Nearly Extinguished, Chemtool Responds to Concern Over Clean Up

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Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco
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Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco
Concerned Rockton Resident Addresses Crowd

Public officials said that the fire at Chemtool will be extinguished within the next couple of days. But Rockton community members are worried that cleanup hasn’t come soon enough.

Chemtool contracted waste management company Clean Harbors to dispose of debris in people’s yards. But in a community meeting last night in Rockton organized by the Citizens for Chemtool Accountability Group, several residents shared that they’re still waiting for Clean Harbors to come to their homes.

Chemtool spokeswoman Alicia Gauer said in a statement to WNIJ that “There are approximately 30 individuals from Clean Harbors working on these tasks.”

Gauer says that requests from the same neighborhood will be addressed at the same time, so calls may not be in the order received. But she says that Clean Harbors is compiling a service list and residents need only to call once.

Gauer says that she expects that calls “logged to date” will be serviced by the end of the week. She adds that the service will be provided as long as it’s needed.

All debris collected by Clean Harbors will be sent to an EPA-approved facility for proper disposal per environmental regulations.

Meanwhile, The US Chemical Safety Board is currently on scene at the Chemtool plant to investigate the cause of the fire. Once that investigation and those by other agencies are complete, all results will be released to the public.

  • Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco is a 2020 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project which is a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms.
Juanpablo covers environmental, substandard housing and police-community relations. He’s been a bilingual facilitator at the StoryCorps office in Chicago. As a civic reporting fellow at City Bureau, a non-profit news organization that focuses on Chicago’s South Side, Ramirez-Franco produced print and audio stories about the Pilsen neighborhood. Before that, he was a production intern at the Third Coast International Audio Festival and the rural America editorial intern at In These Times magazine. Ramirez-Franco grew up in northern Illinois. He is a graduate of Knox College.