Massive chemical plant explosion rocks small town, residents evacuated

Ailan Evans, DCNF

An explosion at a chemical plant Monday in Rockton, Illinois, prompted authorities to evacuate residents in a one-mile radius of the site.

The Chemtool manufacturing facility in Rockton caught fire around 7 A.M., with neighbors reporting small explosions and smoke that could be seen for miles, KCRG reported. Residents within a one-mile radius were evacuated to the local middle school, and drivers have been ordered to avoid the area, Rockton officials told ABC 7 Chicago.

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Chemtool, a manufacturer of greases, lubricants, and fluids, is owned by The Lubrizol Corporation, a Berkshire Hathaway company.

“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,” said Alicia Gauer, Director of Global Communications for The Lubrizol Corporation, in a statement Monday.

“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.”

The Lubrizol Corporation did not immediately respond for further comment.

Though it is unknown whether there are any hazardous chemicals involved, smoke from industrial lubricants can be toxic. Salvation Army volunteers have set up a field kitchen to provide meals and beverages to first responders, KCRG reported.

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