Illinois EPA Sampling Detects Elevated Metals in Groundwater Monitoring Wells in Rockton, Not Detected Before Chemtool Fire


Source of the contamination currently unknown; private well sampling being initiated

SPRINGFIELD – State and local officials have confirmed the presence of elevated metals, including antimony, cadmium, chromium, and nickel, in groundwater monitoring wells located at the former Beloit Corporation Superfund site. Groundwater monitoring wells do not serve as drinking water sources for the public. There were no metals found in the municipal water supply for the Village of Rockton which was tested on June 21, 2021. Initial private well sampling will be conducted near the monitoring wells to determine if any private drinking water wells have been impacted.

The groundwater monitoring wells in which the elevated metals were detected are part of the monitoring well network for the former Beloit Corporation Superfund site. The groundwater monitoring wells are used to collect data on the direction of groundwater flow, the geology of the area, and the extent of contamination. The monitoring wells with elevated levels of metals are all located within the Superfund site. Of the 20 monitoring wells sampled, elevated levels of metals were identified in 16 wells.

The samples with the elevated metal results were collected from monitoring wells following the fire at the Chemtool, Inc. facility, which is located on this Superfund site. Metals were not previously contaminants of concern at the Beloit Corp Superfund site. The Illinois EPA is currently evaluating possible sources of the metals contamination but cannot confirm the source or cause of the contamination at this time.

According to the official village website, the Village of Rockton was notified on Wednesday, July 21, 2021 by the Winnebago County Health Department (WCHD) and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency that the monitoring wells on the Beloit Corporation Superfund site were confirmed to have the presence of elevated metals. The monitor wells were used to sample the ground water after the Chemtool Fire. At this time, the source of the metal contamination is not known. The IEPA, IDPH, and WCHD are coordinating initial testing of private wells located in the Blackhawk neighborhood near the monitor wells that tested high for metals. WCHD will be reaching out to residents who have been selected to have their private well sampled. WCHD has reached out to residents within close proximity to have their private well sampled.

“We know that another environmental situation is taxing for residents’ sense of safety and mental health. Today’s announcement from the IEPA, while concerning, provides an opportunity to prevent additional exposures and identify potentials sources that could be addressed. Mayor Peterson encourages you to email [email protected] if you need help finding the appropriate resource for your questions.”

— Village of Rockton

The village message on Thursday, July 22, 2021 encourages residents to work with WCHD to get their private wells tested if selected for sampling. The Village of Rockton municipal water supply has not been impacted. The Village municipal water supply was tested for metals on June 21, 2021 and no metals were found.

The Village stated it is committed to ensuring the safety of its residents.

Following the detection of metals in the monitoring wells, Illinois EPA consulted with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Winnebago County Health Department (WCHD) and are coordinating initial sampling of private wells located in close proximity to the monitoring wells with elevated metal detections. The geology of the area is complex, and the proximity to the Rock River can cause variations in the groundwater flow. Private wells may not necessarily be impacted the same as the monitoring wells.

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