Chemical discovered underground; Homewood park closes
September 4, 2013 10:22PM
Updated: October 7, 2013 1:04PM
An area of Apollo Park in Homewood was closed Wednesday after construction crews dug up chemical containers that were buried in the ground.
Fire Chief Bob Grabowski said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers discovered the containers while they were building an addition to the Army Reserve base near 190th and Halsted streets. Grabowski said the site was formerly used to house anti-aircraft Nike missiles for the Army.
About 11 a.m. Wednesday, construction crews dug up containers of dimethylhydrazine, which is a chemical often used in rocket fuel, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website. It says inhaling the chemical can irritate the throat, nasal passages, skin and eyes and cause nausea and vomiting. Long-term exposure can cause liver damage, the EPA says.
Grabowski said a “small amount” of the chemical was found, resulting in the closing of the southeast section of the park. A crew of about six Homewood firefighters were expected to finish cleaning up the site by Thursday morning, he said.
No one was injured in the incident, and the fire department’s hazardous materials team was not called to the scene, Grabowski said.