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EPA Begins Hazardous Waste Cleanup in Rock Island

Wear Cote.jpg
inside the Wear Cote building in Rock Island

Cleanup has started at a hazardous waste site in Rock Island. Wear Cote International did metal plating and processing in the 100 block of 10th Street, from 1972 until last year.

The On Scene Coordinator for the US EPA, Andy Maguire, says there are barrels and vats containing several thousand gallons of corrosive, flammable, lead, chromium, and cyanide hazardous wastes.

WearCote exterior.jpg
the Wear Cote building at 101 10th Street, in Rock Island

"The chemicals are pretty nasty but the building is fairly intact, and there's not a large threat of people getting in there or a release, but it's definitely there."

A water main break and a break-in during the winter did not result in any off-site release, but showed it would be possible the longer the hazardous chemicals were left abandoned and un-secured.

Maguire says some of the chemicals will be recycled and some will be disposed of safely. The cleanup at Wear Cote could take about two months, and cost more than one million dollars.

The company went bankrupt in May of 2020, and was issued a notice of violation several months later by the Illinois EPA. But since neither the owner or state agency had the money or ability to clean it up, it was referred to the US EPA.