Antioch Hazmat Chemical Spill Was Likely Connected to Old Ferric Chloride Circuit Board Etching


Antioch police and firefighter/paramedics responded about 8:19 PM Monday July 24, 2017 to a report a chemical spill at an automotive company, 874 Anita Avenue Antioch, Il. Police and firefighter/paramedics received a report of a 10,000 gallon spill of unknown substance at the location. This volume was not confirmed, and the spill was actually coming from a nearby business address at 884 Anita Street, which is the former location of Circuit Systems. Initial analysis of the situation indicated the chemical was possibly ferric chloride, which is an acid that is commonly used in circuit board manufacture for etching of printed circuit boards.

A MABAS Division 4 Box Alarm on Box #21-40 for a chemical spill at 8:33 p.m. The Hazmat response was elevated to a 2nd Alarm at 9:15 p.m.

Police on arrival about 8:19 p.m. reported the spill started on Friday and was reported to authorities when the business owner arrived on the scene. According to what police learned on arrival, the chemical might have involved ferric chloride.

On Tuesday July 25, 2017 the Village of Antioch released some preliminary information on Antioch’s official website.

Preliminary investigation has revealed an undetermined amount of an unknown industrial chemical was released on the grounds of the facility. The Antioch Fire Department, in conjunction with the Lake & McHenry County HazMat response team is currently investigating the incident to determine the extent of the leak.

— Village of Antioch

Cleanup of the chemical leak continued Tuesday morning, and crews from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency responded to investigate the spill.

The facility with the leak source was initially reported to be a manufacturer in the Antioch Industrial Park,

Antioch Fire officials said there was no risk to the surrounding community, and Antioch Police officials reported there was no significant exposure to Sequoit Creek, which is located less than 30 feet from the property line.

No information about the identity of the chemical or the circumstances involved in the spill were immediately released to the public. The chemical was initially listed as unidentified.

On July 31, 2017 the Village of Antioch posted a press release written by Fire Chief Jon Cokefair of the First Fire Protection District of Antioch. Fire Chief Jon Cokefair listed several important points about the chemical leak.

• Firefighters worked closely with the state and federal officials to ensure that the leakage is stopped, the storage tanks which served as the source of this chemical were emptied and the public is protected.

• Onsite observations suggest that some of the ferric chloride may have entered the waters of Sequoit Creek … but fire officials have been assured that the concentrations of the acid are small enough to have an insignificant effect on the water in the creek and aquatic life.

• There appears to be no possible danger to the public from this leakage at the present time and once the tanks are completely empty, there can be no further spills.

• The Fire Department, Village, State, and Federal officials have been in contact with the owner of the property and are taking all steps necessary to protect the public as well as to investigate why this chemical was present in this building, considering that there has been no circuit board manufacturing going on in recent years.

• The Village of Antioch will work with its sister agencies to bring any appropriate charges and liabilities against any responsible parties and will continue all necessary efforts to prevent any future incidents of this nature. Reimbursement will certainly be sought for all expenses incurred by our public agencies in providing first responders and materials.



Antioch District 21 Assigned

ENGINE(S): E212 E211

TRUCK(S): T ?? T ?? TL ??


TENDER(S): Tender 211

RIT: BC ?? T ??

CHIEF(S): BC21 2100, 2102

EMS: A ?? A ??


ENGINE(S): Spring Grove FPD



TECH(S): Round Lake FPD
Fox Lake Fire Department
Libertyville Fire Department
Countryside FPD
Waukegan Fire Department
Gurnee Fire Department
Mundelein Fire Department
Wauconda Fire District
Abbot Labs Fire Department
Newport Township FPD

EMS: Richmond Township FPD
Lake Villa Fire Department

CHIEF(S): Round Lake FPD
Fox Lake Fire Department
Wauconda Fire District

SPECIAL: HazMat 4, DECON 4, SRT Mechanics Truck, Quad 2 Rehab, MABAS 4 Rehab Bus, Command 2, ATV 4

CHANGE OF QUARTERS: Round Lake Engine, Fox Lake Ambulance, Lake Villa Chief




TRUCK(S): ??

SQUAD(S): Gurnee Fire Department

TENDER(S): Newport Township FPD

TECH(S): Beach Park Fire Department
Zion Fire-Rescue Department
Lake Forest Fire Department
Lake Zurich Fire Rescue
Buffalo Grove Fire Department
McHenry Township FPD
Barrington Countryside FPD



SPECIAL: Hazmat 5, UCP 13, Light Tower 4, Air 5


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Information About Ferric Chloride from CAMEO (Computer-Aided Management of Emergency Operation) and other sources. CAMEO is a system of software applications used widely to plan for and respond to chemical emergencies.)

Ferric Chloride is a strong, non-oxidizing acid, is hygroscopic (a deliquescent that absorbs moisture from air), and is slightly soluble in water. Ferric chloride is an orange to brown-black solid when it is wet or in solution. Dry ferric chloride crystals can be dark green, yellow or purple-red. Circuit board manufacturers receive etching product as a ferric chloride acid solution. When in dry form, it can form HCL acid mist when it is pulling moisture out of the air. Ferric chloride is not considered to be a carcinogen, and is associated with the well-known health hazards related to acids.

CAMEO: First Aid for Ferric Chloride
EYES: First check the victim for contact lenses and remove if present. Flush victim’s eyes with water or normal saline solution for 20 to 30 minutes while simultaneously calling a hospital or poison control center. Do not put any ointments, oils, or medication in the victim’s eyes without specific instructions from a physician. IMMEDIATELY transport the victim after flushing eyes to a hospital even if no symptoms (such as redness or irritation) develop.

SKIN: IMMEDIATELY flood affected skin with water while removing and isolating all contaminated clothing. Gently wash all affected skin areas thoroughly with soap and water. IMMEDIATELY call a hospital or poison control center even if no symptoms (such as redness or irritation) develop. IMMEDIATELY transport the victim to a hospital for treatment after washing the affected areas.

INHALATION: IMMEDIATELY leave the contaminated area; take deep breaths of fresh air. If symptoms (such as wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, or burning in the mouth, throat, or chest) develop, call a physician and be prepared to transport the victim to a hospital. Provide proper respiratory protection to rescuers entering an unknown atmosphere. Whenever possible, Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) should be used; if not available, use a level of protection greater than or equal to that advised under Protective Clothing.

INGESTION: DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING. Corrosive chemicals will destroy the membranes of the mouth, throat, and esophagus and, in addition, have a high risk of being aspirated into the victim’s lungs during vomiting which increases the medical problems. If the victim is conscious and not convulsing, give 1 or 2 glasses of water to dilute the chemical and IMMEDIATELY call a hospital or poison control center. IMMEDIATELY transport the victim to a hospital. If the victim is convulsing or unconscious, do not give anything by mouth, ensure that the victim’s airway is open and lay the victim on his/her side with the head lower than the body. DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING. Transport the victim IMMEDIATELY to a hospital.

Ferric chloride is also used to treat sewage and industrial waste, to purify water, and is also used in the manufacture of other chemicals. Ferric chloride is even on the FDA food additive list (Ferric chloride – NUTR, GRAS, GMP – 184.1297). The greater problem with ferric chloride is what chemicals are formed when it reacts in the industrial etching process.

Ferric chloride is noncombustible. When wet, it is corrosive to aluminum and most metals. When spilled or leaking, hazmat techs are advised to pick up and remove spilled solid before adding water.

Concern regarding etching with ferric chloride is elevated when copper boards are used because residual copper is formed and copper ions should not be allowed to drain into water systems. Proper hazardous waste handling sometimes involves treating the waste solution after etching with sodium hydroxide to increase the pH of the solution and precipitate copper into a sludge. The sludge is turned over to an authorized waste management company.


Isolation and Evacuation

Excerpt from ERG Guide 157 [Substances – Toxic and/or Corrosive (Non-Combustible / Water-Sensitive)]:

As an immediate precautionary measure, isolate spill or leak area in all directions for at least 50 meters (150 feet) for liquids and at least 25 meters (75 feet) for solids.

SPILL: Increase, in the downwind direction, as necessary, the isolation distance shown above.

FIRE: If tank, rail car or tank truck is involved in a fire, ISOLATE for 800 meters (1/2 mile) in all directions; also, consider initial evacuation for 800 meters (1/2 mile) in all directions.

Excerpt from ERG Guide 157 [Substances – Toxic and/or Corrosive (Non-Combustible / Water-Sensitive)]:

Note: Some foams will react with the material and release corrosive/toxic gases.

SMALL FIRE: CO2 (except for Cyanides), dry chemical, dry sand, alcohol-resistant foam.

LARGE FIRE: Water spray, fog or alcohol-resistant foam. Move containers from fire area if you can do it without risk. Use water spray or fog; do not use straight streams. Dike fire-control water for later disposal; do not scatter the material.

FIRE INVOLVING TANKS OR CAR/TRAILER LOADS: Fight fire from maximum distance or use unmanned hose holders or monitor nozzles. Do not get water inside containers. Cool containers with flooding quantities of water until well after fire is out. Withdraw immediately in case of rising sound from venting safety devices or discoloration of tank. ALWAYS stay away from tanks engulfed in fire.

Non-Fire Response
Excerpt from ERG Guide 157 [Substances – Toxic and/or Corrosive (Non-Combustible / Water-Sensitive)]:

ELIMINATE all ignition sources (no smoking, flares, sparks or flames in immediate area). All equipment used when handling the product must be grounded. Do not touch damaged containers or spilled material unless wearing appropriate protective clothing. Stop leak if you can do it without risk. A vapor-suppressing foam may be used to reduce vapors. DO NOT GET WATER INSIDE CONTAINERS. Use water spray to reduce vapors or divert vapor cloud drift. Avoid allowing water runoff to contact spilled material. Prevent entry into waterways, sewers, basements or confined areas.

SMALL SPILL: Cover with DRY earth, DRY sand or other non-combustible material followed with plastic sheet to minimize spreading or contact with rain. Use clean, non-sparking tools to collect material and place it into loosely covered plastic containers for later disposal.

Protective Clothing
Dust respirator if required; rubber apron and boots; chemical worker’s goggles or face shield (USCG, 1999)

According to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, excess copper in soils is toxic to some micro-organisms, causing disruption of nutrient-cycling and inhibiting the mineralization of essential nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Some species accumulate copper. Toxic effects on fish and other aquatic organisms have also been observed, but no significant effects on the global environment are expected.

Copper is also a concern in saltwater marine environments when salinity and pH can effect copper levels. Industrial sources of copper include mining activities, agriculture, metal and electrical manufacturing, sludge from publicly-owned treatment works (POTWs), pesticide use and more. A major source of copper in the marine environment is antifouling paints, used as coatings for ship hulls, buoys, and underwater surfaces, and as a legacy contaminant from decking, pilings and some marine structures that used chromated copper arsenate (CCA) treated timbers for pilings and posts. Antifouling paints prevent the build-up of plant life and animal life (barnacles, muscles, sea squirts, seaweed, and tubeworms), including microfouling (slime, bacteria and algae life forms).

According to the US EPA, copper is an essential nutrient at low concentrations, but is toxic to aquatic organisms at higher concentrations. In addition to acute effects such as mortality, chronic exposure to copper can lead to adverse effects on survival, growth, reproduction as well as alterations of brain function, enzyme activity, blood chemistry, and metabolism.

Exposure to slightly higher environmental levels of copper is unlikely to have adverse effects on health. Immediate high level exposure (following an accident or in an occupational setting) might however cause chest pains, vomiting and irritation of the eyes and nose.

See also …
Village of Antioch Antioch Acid Spill Update

EPA Fact Sheet: Draft Estuarine/Marine Copper Aquatic Life Ambient Water Quality Criteria [PDF]

CAMEO Ferric Chloride

CAMEO Copper Chloride

MG Chemicals Copper Etchant Ferric Chloride

FDA Food Additive Status List

Scottish Environmental Protection Agency Copper

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