Beach Park Chemical Spill Health Investigations Continue

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For Immediate Release
Date: May 9, 2019
Contact: Hannah Goering
(847) 377-8099


Beach Park Chemical Spill Health Investigations Continue

CDC staff to conduct door-to-door interviews about anhydrous ammonia exposures

Lake County, Ill. — The Lake County Health Department is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate the health impacts of an anhydrous ammonia spill that occurred in Beach Park, Illinois on the morning of April 25, 2019.

CDC staff will begin door-to-door interviews on the morning of Saturday, May 11, 2019 at homes within a one-mile radius of the spill. Residents are encouraged to participate in the survey, if asked, to assist the CDC in their analysis and to help improve future incident response. The CDC will also interview first responders and those who were hospitalized during the incident.

At approximately 4:25 a.m. on April 25, 2019, a large release of anhydrous ammonia occurred on Green Bay Road at Clarendon St. in Beach Park, Illinois. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office and 39 fire departments responded to the incident. A shelter in place order was issued for residents within a one-mile radius of the leak. The plume released by the anhydrous ammonia spill affected residents of Beach Park, Wadsworth, and Zion, as well as people traveling through the area.

Throughout the morning, emergency crews conducted door-to-door wellness checks, evaluating and treating residents as needed. Approximately 40 people were transported via ambulance to local hospitals. Following an air quality check by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the shelter in place order was lifted at 10:00 a.m.

During discussions between the Lake County Health Department and the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), it was determined that CDC Epidemiological Assistance (Epi-Aid) would be beneficial to describe the incident; review the emergency response and environmental testing conducted by local, state, and federal agencies; and review exposure history and clinical outcomes of affected individuals through interviews and medical chart reviews. The information collected through Epi-Aid may lead to recommendations to help prevent and guide response to similar incidents in the future.

The Lake County Health Department has been working alongside U.S. EPA, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, and ATSDR to address environmental impacts at the incident site. Homes in the immediate area use private water wells as their water source, and due to the presence of ammonia vapor in the air and the large amount of water used during the incident response, the Health Department evaluated for risk of water well contamination. After reviewing well construction records, staff determined the wells to be at low risk for contamination by surface water.

On April 26, 2019, the Health Department collected and analyzed samples from wells serving six homes nearest to the spill site, as well as from sump pits in two homes. Results showed slightly elevated levels of ammonia in the water. Though the detected levels did not present a health risk, residents were advised that they could drink bottled water as a precaution. The wells were re-tested for ammonia on April 30, 2019, and found results were within the normal range. Health Department staff will resample the water wells toward the end of May for a third assessment.

Residents with questions about water well testing or other environmental concerns can contact the Health Department’s Environmental Health Services at (847) 377-8020. Questions about anhydrous ammonia exposure or the CDC interviews on May 11, 2019 can be directed to the Communicable Disease program at (847) 377-8130.


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Lake County Health Department
3010 Grand Avenue
Waukegan, Illinois 60085
(847) 377-8000