Carus LLC announced the company will host a public meeting 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 10, at the La Salle-Peru High School auditorium to answer questions and address concerns from residents in the wake of the Jan. 11 Carus Chemical plant fire.
Residents have been vocal with attendance at La Salle City Council meetings, two protests and social media posts, calling for Carus to take action.
While there are more specific questions each resident may have for Carus, here are four common items residents have said they want addressed by Carus.
1. More environmental testing
After the Environmental Protection Agency and Illinois EPA concluded its testing in La Salle, residents took their own samples, including those from furnace air filters and soil, and discovered a presence of heavy metals. The city of La Salle also conducted its own independent testing through Brownfield Engineering, but it did not test for the full scope of heavy metals found in independent tests. Denise Trabic-Pointer, a certified hazardous materials manager volunteering her time in La Salle, said what’s at issue is the city’s residents need more testing to determine what’s in the environment and what needs remediation. She is advocating for surface wipe tests, especially where children are present, to ensure the community’s safety, among other recommendations. The Sierra Club has said tests conducted by the EPA were too hasty and not thorough in the amount of substances they evaluated.
2. Payment for damages
Residents present at Monday’s City Council were asked if any of their property damage was paid for by Carus LLC. During the Jan. 11 fire, materials from the fire fell on cars, siding, swimming pools and lawn furniture, among other outdoor items. The substance was corrosive in nature. Council members said they are concerned at the number of claims that have not been paid.
3. Air quality testing
Trabbic-Pointer said furnace filters gathered by the Sierra Club and community members indicate significant amounts of manganese and other metals that have been airborne. Review of continuous monitoring from the air monitor at La Salle Public Library indicated a significant increase in three-hour averages the day of the fire and slowly increasing levels as Carus brought its processes back online, she said. Pointer indicated those findings should warrant further testing and monitoring.
Aldermen Bob Thompson and Joe Jeppson have addressed concerns about air quality monitoring, with Thompson saying Monday he was looking into funding to get more monitors throughout the community.
4. Future safety plans
Residents have said at City Council meetings they want Carus to share plans that ensure the public is safe if another accident were to occur. Residents have said they were concerned with the shelter-in-place order and if it was lifted too soon. They also have said some misinformation was presented in how to clean the materials in the aftermath of the fire.