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Illinois chemical plant reopens after explosion

Posted on by SST

A chemical manufacturing plant in Seward, Ill., was given the go-ahead to resume operations by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency after conducting an investigation of an explosion and fire that caused the evacuation of the town for 24 hours.

The Rockford Register Star reported the IEPA and the Illinois Attorney General's Office gave Nova-Kem the OK to resume business at the Seward site by August 28 strictly on a "limited manufacturing operations" schedule. Just a day earlier, Reno Novak, the chief executive officer and president of Nova-Kem, met with nearby residents at the Seward Grade School to discuss the clean-up operations to-date. He assured residents that all chemical manufacturing had been stopped, even in buildings that were not destroyed by the explosion. In addition, Novak also apologized for the event.

"By them giving us the OK to begin these operations, they're obviously comfortable with the testing that has been ongoing," Novak said. "We'll have people there (today). We'll have to go through a punch list and decide when we can start."

Novak added the limited operations will involve the use of water-based chemicals in the Specialty Products Building. It's unclear when those operations will come online.

The temporary permission granted to Nova-Kem is conditional on them meeting a number of criteria. Specifically, the chemical manufacturer must install a fire alarm system with remote notification within two weeks, as well as allow the local fire department to inspect the facility, among others. The IEPA will also make frequent inspections and monitor the progress of the safety measures adopted by Nova-Kem. The Specialty Chemical Building must also be outfitted with an emergency notification system that Nova-Kem must operate.

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