Cleanup Ongoing for Accidental Hazmat Spill in Hamel, Ill.

According to a news release from the Illinois Department of Public Health and IEPA, people who were in the area when the release occurred, or later that evening, may have been exposed to the product.

by Scott Cousins, The Telegraph, Alton, Ill. / June 14, 2019

(TNS) — Officials say residents who may have been directly exposed to dust that may contain hazardous materials released after an accidental spill in Hamel on Tuesday should consult a health-care provider.

Others, authorities say, should wash off cars, houses and children’s play areas in the affected area.

About 1,000 pounds of electric arc furnace dust — a byproduct of steel manufacturing or smelting — spilled at the intersection of West State and Hamel avenues at about 10:55 a.m. Tuesday.

Tony Falconio, logistics coordinator for Madison County Emergency Management Agency, said the spill occurred when the driver of a tractor-trailer from Peoria Disposal Co. made a quick stop and the load shifted, spilling material from the covered truck.

“One of the major components we were concerned about was cadmium (a heavy metal),” Falconio said.

The Madison County Hazmat Team responded to the spill to assist the Hamel Fire Department. On Wednesday, Environmental Works Inc. was on site developing a remediation plan. The Madison County Health Department and Hamel village officials also are dealing with the incident.

On Thursday, traffic slowed near the intersection where workers in protective suits and respirators cleared produce from a local fruit and vegetable stand for disposal. The contractor also will collect samples from several locations in the community to be analyzed for heavy metals, with remediation continuing until the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency clears the area.

According to a news release from the Illinois Department of Public Health and IEPA, people who were in the area when the release occurred, or later that evening, may have been exposed to the product.

“Exposure could lead to eye, nose, or throat irritation and coughing, particularly for people with existing respiratory conditions like asthma,” the release stated. “Some components of the product may irritate the skin in addition to mucous membranes. Ingestion of the dust can occur if people do not wash their hands before eating, or by ingesting food, such as garden vegetables, that have been impacted by dust.”

Those directly exposed “should be seen by a health care provider.”

For others, general recommendations for reducing exposure to metals in dust include washing your car, replacing cabin air filters, wiping down the interior of vehicles with a wet cloth, and removing your clothes before you enter your home if you were in the area of the spill and affected by the dust. Garden vegetables in the area should be washed before eating and outdoor children’s play sets and toys in the area should also be washed.

While such spills are relatively few, Falconio said they are the types of things emergency planners are especially concerned about.

“We obviously cherish our industries, but there are hazards that go with that,” he said, adding the biggest risk is in transporting materials. “Our biggest fears is the moving of that — once they get beyond the fence lines and are on the highways and railroads.”

He said that in most cases, roadway spills are the fault of other drivers, not the truck driver.

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©2019 The Telegraph (Alton, Ill.)

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