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Chemical cleanup keeps two Homewood parks closed

Updated: October 9, 2013 7:58PM



Apollo Park and Rover’s Run Dog Park in Homewood will be closed until Sept. 11 while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency clean up chemicals found on the nearby Army Reserve base.

The Army Corps discovered containers of dimethylhydrazine belowground on Wednesday while they were building an addition to the base near 190th and Halsted Streets, which is near Apollo Park. Rover’s Run is a block west of Apollo Park at 191st Street and Center Avenue.

The Army site was formerly used to house Nike anti-aircraft missiles for the army. Dimethylhydrazine is a chemical often used in rocket fuel, according to the U.S. EPA 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.

Homewood Fire Chief Bob Grabowski said a “small amount” of the chemical was found, resulting initially in the closing of the southeast section of Apollo Park. He had said crews expected to clean up the site by Thursday morning, a claim that Homewood-Flossmoor Park District officials say was “premature.”

Pam Melnyk, the park district’s administrative assistant, said the entire park is being closed until next week due to safety concerns. She said the IEPA determined that the cleanup would take longer than initially thought.

“We’re erring on the side of extreme caution to keep the park closed until they have everything cleaned up and give it the OK,” Melnyk said.



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