FAQs: Carus Fire at the LaSalle Plant on January 11, 2023
At Carus our priority is to protect the health and safety of our employees, the community, and emergency personnel. We understand there are questions and concerns from those impacted by the fire on January 11, 2023. The FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) and answers below have been compiled to address these. If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact the Carus Hotline at 815-224-6662.
UPDATE: (March 10, 2023 4:00 pm)
Insurance Claims Process
Davies Group is a third-party agency that specializes in delivering claims administration support, amongst other specialties in risk and insurance. Our insurance partners have worked with the Davies Group to set up a dedicated claims group, which is there to support community members who have submitted claims.
Those who submitted claims through this process received confirmation along with contact information. Insurance adjusters are currently working with community members to resolve those claims.
Claims adjustors have a process they follow, and those efforts are continuing daily. For the community members who have submitted an insurance claim through Carus, an adjuster will be assigned to work with you on completing an assessment of the damage. Once the adjuster completes the assessment, your individual report will be sent to a Davies Group claim representative. The claims representative will then review and communicate with you regarding the next steps. Our commitment to community members is to ensure Davies Group addresses these claims in a timely manner.
Yes, those who file an insurance claim through Carus are asked to sign a release to acknowledge the settlement. This is similar to what you would have to do for any other third-party insurance claim.
The timeline for the entire process depends on the nature and complexity of the claim. Adjusters will be working with you directly to ensure the timeliest completion of claims. Our commitment to community members is to ensure Davies Group addresses these claims in a timely manner.
After the fire occurred on January 11 at our LaSalle plant, we knew it was imperative to address the concerns of the community as quickly as possible. That is why we immediately set up the Community Hotline to address your most pressing questions and concerns.
Carus employees have answered more than 300 calls from community members to provide information and respond to questions. We encourage anyone who has questions about the insurance claim process to call the Carus Community Hotline at 815-224-6662.
Every individual that files a claim, receives an email that includes a personalized claim number and the adjuster’s name. You can request that the adjuster verify their name and your claim number prior to inspecting your home.
Stormwater Spill and Cleanup
On March 6, 2023, at approximately 10:04 AM, workers from a cleanup contractor were using a vacuum truck to offload fire site containment area stormwater that had come in contact with a small amount of potassium permanganate into a tank. During this process, the hose came out of the tank for approximately 3 seconds and sprayed the area. Less than 2 gallons were sprayed onto the 7th Street roadway.
Rainwater from the fire site containment area came into contact with a very small amount of potassium permanganate.
The material was tested immediately and found to have a pH of around 8. At room temperature, water has a pH of 7.0. The material on the road had a pH of 7.0 after it was neutralized with a solution of 3% vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide.
Approximately 15 gallons total. Of that 15 gallons, less than 2 gallons made it onto 7th Street.
A light purple stain was present on the street. The cleanup contractor immediately neutralized the area with a solution of 3% vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide and removed the stain.
We immediately tested the rainwater from the fire site containment area, and neutralized it.
No, the level of material spilled was well below any reportable quantity. However, Carus immediately notified the City of LaSalle, Illinois EPA, and U.S. EPA and gave them a summary of what occurred.
Carus ordered an immediate stop of all work that contractors on site were involved with. There was a safety stand down, and the cause of issue discussed to make sure it does not happen again. All work being conducted, and safety of jobs were reviewed.
At approximately 11:30 a.m., a LaSalle Fire Department representative and a representative from the LaSalle Water Department arrived at the facility at the City of LaSalle’s request. All City of LaSalle employees were satisfied with our response and did not note any issues. As a precautionary measure, the City of LaSalle is sending a street sweeper down the street.
LaSalle Apollo Warehouse
The Apollo Warehouse, which is used to house empty packaging, equipment, and Department of Transportation nonhazardous materials in accordance with regulatory guidelines and safety standards, is located north of Porter Avenue and east of Zinc Street in LaSalle.
Yes. Carus proactively decided in spring 2022 to remove all Department of Transportation nonhazardous materials from this facility following noise concerns from the community, and were finalized on Friday, March 3, 2023.
Yes. Carus has worked with the City of LaSalle Fire Department, Illinois EPA, and other regulatory agencies to ensure the Apollo Warehouse is operated in accordance with regulatory guidelines and safety standards.
Yes. The Apollo Warehouse has a safety and security system to protect the warehouse, its contents, and the LaSalle community.
A Tier II hazardous classification is a U.S. EPA designation to “help increase the public’s knowledge and access to information on chemicals at individual facilities, their uses, and releases into the environment. States and communities can use the information to improve chemical safety and protect public health and the environment.” While the materials that have been stored in the Apollo Warehouse are nonhazardous materials, according to the Department of Transportation, the facility itself does carry a Tier II hazardous classification, and as such, is regulated and operated to meet and exceed those safety standards.
Some local examples of Tier 2 chemical sites include grain companies, gas stations, equipment rental facilities, hospitals, and big box stores.
Bleach, Dye, gasoline, pool chemicals, nail polish remover, cleaning chemicals, laundry detergent, pesticides, fertilizers, and nicotine.
The chemicals that were stored at the Apollo Warehouse do not fall under the definition of a DOT hazardous material classification, which is different from a Tier 2 Hazardous classification. Because the chemicals are being transported domestically, they are not required to be placarded. A hazardous material is defined by the Department of Transportation (DOT) as “a substance or material that the Secretary of Transportation has determined is capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce, and has been so designated.” None of the materials that were or currently stored at the Apollo Warehouse meet these criteria.
The Illinois EPA toured the Apollo Warehouse and there were no concerns. They are working with us to return operations to normal as quickly as possible.
Emergency Response and Cleanup
First responders and partner agencies took quick action to extinguish the fire and keep the community safe. The fire was fully extinguished the following day, and the Fire Chief and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency turned the facility back over to Carus just two days after the fire. Carus applauds the timely and professional response of all those on the scene working to support the community.
Reports estimate at least 40 different fire departments from three Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) districts reported to the scene of the fire, as well as several other emergency management and regulatory agencies. The response was collaborative and Carus appreciates all of the firefighters and first responders that assisted in the emergency response.
Carus is responsible for the cleanup and is partnering and constantly communicating with the City of LaSalle, U.S. EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency), Illinois EPA, LaSalle County Health Department, and other regulatory agencies to prioritize the health and safety of the community as we repair the damage to the facility. Testing by those regulatory agencies, weekly progress reports, and daily air monitoring by Carus and the U.S. EPA indicate no health concerns for the community.
Community Health and Safety
No. Based on U.S. EPA air monitoring that was conducted on the day of the fire, the day after the fire, and by a Carus consultant everyday since January 13th, all tests remain below any level of concern. Visit the City of LaSalle website here for more information
No. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) tested the Little Vermillion River on the day of the fire (upstream and downstream) and verified that there was no contamination. Water that was utilized for firefighting purposes and subsequent runoff was diverted to an onsite clay lined emergency containment pond. This diverted water is now being treated on site utilizing a permitted Water Treatment Plant under the direction of the Illinois EPA and the City of LaSalle. Continuous sampling will be conducted to ensure the water is compliant with established standards and permits before it is discharged to the LaSalle Public Owned Treatment Works (POTW) for final discharge. Visit the City of LaSalle website for more information by clicking here.
Yes. Testing by the EPA and Illinois Department of Natural Resources indicate no concerns for pets or wildlife. Please visit the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website for more information by clicking here.
Lead and mercury are present in trace amounts in some raw materials used to make potassium permanganate. Very small amounts would have been released to the air during the fire on January 11. Testing by City of LaSalle, U.S. EPA, Illinois EPA, LaSalle County Health Department, and other regulatory agencies indicate no health risks to the LaSalle community.
Cleanup should be done by mid-March. Carus diligently assessed the extent of the damage after the fire and implemented a plan (and timeline) for permanganate production to resume as soon as possible.
Carus recognizes the uncertainty and concerns of the community. Since then, the return to normal has unfolded quickly. A shelter-in-place order announced during the fire was lifted within hours, and residents were advised to return to normal activities by the next day. All Carus team members immediately went back to work.
To help residents return to normal and clean up quickly, Carus set up an information hotline and employees visited the affected areas to assess the impact and to speak directly with neighbors to answer questions. The hotline has served hundreds of community members since the fire.
Carus facilities, along with our customers, have been safely storing potassium permanganate and sodium permanganate for decades without an incident like this. As such, the cause of the fire is likely something unusual (though not suspicious, as confirmed by the State Fire Marshall’s Office). Carus is an ISO-certified company that embraces continuous improvement and will develop an even stronger risk mitigation plan moving forward.
Carus Plant Damage, Safety, and Rebuilding
No. Thanks to effective safety structures in the facility and a quick response from emergency personnel, the fire was suppressed quickly, leaving most areas of the property undamaged and all employees and emergency personnel safe and accounted for.
The phosphate production line, lab, administration offices, and other manufacturing areas were not impacted by the fire. The Fire Chief turned the entire facility back over to Carus the day following the fire, and the phosphate production line began shipping product less than a week later.
The fire started in the warehouse area that houses potassium permanganate. Some of the surrounding areas sustained damage.
Potassium permanganate, sodium permanganate, catalysts, and phosphates. Permanganates are used to treat drinking water, wastewater, industrial process chemicals, and more. Catalysts have a variety of uses in air purification. Phosphates are used to keep lead and copper out of drinking water and for corrosion control in potable and industrial water systems.
No, phosphate production and shipping at the Carus LaSalle, IL and Belmont, NC manufacturing plants are running as usual.
Yes, both potassium and sodium permanganate production were affected by the fire. Carus is working diligently to bring the permanganate operations back online quickly and safely.
The Carus sales team and customer support team will work with customers to manage existing orders. Contact your dedicated Carus account manager to get specific updates about an order.
At this time, Carus is working diligently to bring the permanganate operations back online quickly and safely.