UPDATE: Authorities lift shelter-in-place recommendation after Carus chemical plant fire in LaSalle

Published: Jan. 11, 2023 at 11:04 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 11, 2023 at 4:24 PM CST
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UPDATE - The shelter-in-place recommendation for residents of the 3rd and 4th wards in LaSalle has been lifted after Wednesday’s fire at the Carus Chemical plant.

The potassium permanganate that was released into the environment is used as drinking water material, said Carus Vice President of Operations Allen Gibbs.

“It is in your drinking water as a normal product. If you come in contact with that material, it can cause staining on the skin. The material can be rinsed away with water,” said Gibbs.

The stain does not pose a health threat, Gibbs said.

He added that it can look slightly pink or green when it first comes in contact with water.

Robert Kondreck of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said contractors are monitoring air quality. He said there was no runoff of the chemical into the Vermillion River.

Carus Chemical is operating a hotline for questions from the public at 815-224-6662.

The EPA will launch a webpage soon for updates on the chemical fire.

The city will hold another news conference Thursday at 2 p.m.

LaSALLE (25 News Now) - There is a precautionary shelter-in-place northwest of the Carus chemical plant in LaSalle due to smoke after it erupted in fire.

LaSalle Fire Chief Jerry Janick says all plant personnel have been accounted for.

One firefighter was treated for a minor injury and released.

Carus spokesperson Al Gibbs says potassium permanganate was released. He said there is no health threat from this chemical. It can stain but can be rinsed with water.

Potassium permanganate is normally seen in water.

Areas impacted are north and northwest of the plant.

A hotline will open after 5 p.m. for those impacted - that number is 815-224-6206.

The United States EPA arrived on scene at 2 p.m. with contractors doing testing up wind to see what, if anything, is in the smoke plume.

The EPA says no AFFF film was used and the runoff from the firefighting has been contained on site.

The Illinois EPA and U.S. Coast Guard is on-site to do a walkaround to make sure there is no contamination of the Vermillion River.

LaSalle Police say a green oxidizer has been released in the area. They advise the public to not touch it and to continue to shelter-in-place.

In order to deactivate the oxidizer. it, you will need a 1:1:1 mixture of 1 gallon of water, 1 gallon of peroxide, and 1 gallon of vinegar.

ABC 7 Chicago reports there have been no evacuations yet.

According to local media, an “explosion” was reported near the Carus Chemical plant around 9 a.m. Wednesday, located at 1500 8th Street in LaSalle, located about 80 miles southwest of Chicago.

Fire chief Jerry Janick said he cannot confirm any explosions or “thunder rumble” that may have been felt or heard. Callers to 25 News said they experienced both.

A spokesperson for Carus says the fire occurred in the shipping area of the plant during regular operations.

According to Carus Vice President of Operations, Allen Gibbs, all Carus employees are safe and accounted for, “We are thankful everyone is safe, and we are also grateful to the LaSalle Fire Department and crews from the surrounding area who responded to address this situation to keep the area safe.” He added, “Carus’ priority is to protect the health and safety of the employees, emergency personnel who are responding to this fire and the nearby community.”

According to the company’s website, Carus makes potassium permanganate used to treat drinking water, wastewater and other chemicals like phosphates, polymers, and catalysts.