Officials survey site of chemical spill

By WEEK Producer

April 25, 2012 Updated Apr 25, 2012 at 9:50 PM CDT

TAZEWELL COUNTY, Ill. -- The full impact of an agricultural chemical spill yesterday south of Morton is not yet fully known, but the cost is already high for wildlife.

An emergency response agent from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency surveyed the area of Tuesday's chemical spill. An agricultural sprayer driven by 61-year-old Roy Haycock of Delavan jumped a guardrail on Allentown Road, south of Morton, and landed in Prairie Creek.

The IEPA reports several hundred gallons of a mixture of nitrogen and herbicide and 60 gallons of diesel fuel were released from the sprayer after impact, resulting in some significant consequences.

"We've had what's called a complete kill in the waterway for approximately one mile downstream," said George Krebs of the IEPA. "That means everything that's in the creek gets killed. We're also noticing quite a few smaller fish further downstream that are distressed as well."

A response team erected four makeshift dams to contain the spill as much as possible.

The accident also damaged the overpass. A structural engineer will file a report with the Tazewell County Highway Department so repairs can be made.

An environmental clean up crew has been working for much of the last 24 hours.

"Last night we had them removing water just south of the incident here. They removed 40,000 gallons of contaminated water," said Krebs.

The IEPA estimates the cost of cleaning up the spill to be in excess of $250,000. According to Krebs that will be paid for by Haycock Soil Service of Delavan, the company that owns the sprayer.

An official with the Tazewell County Health Department recommends residents who live close to Prairie Creek should exercise caution until the testing of water samples are completed.

"If they have bottled water they could drink bottled water," said health department spokesperson Sara Sparkman. "Obviously people having animals in that area that may be something to think about as well. Just be cautious and be aware of it."

Meanwhile, the driver of the sprayer, Roy Haycock, was treated for injuries at Pekin Hospital and released.