ROCHELLE — City officials joined staff of Rochelle Municipal Utilities for a ribbon cutting ceremony at the city’s first radium removal plant located at Well 11, just North of Flagg Road.
The $2.7 million plant is to rid excess radium from the city’s water supply.
RMU Water Supt. Adam Lanning explained the plant utilizes state of the art technology and safety measures, including the use of liquid chlorine instead of chlorine gas; this reduces the risk to the workers and surrounding community.
“Nearly everything that could have gone wrong did during construction — the plant was struck by lightning and a valve malfunction occurred,” said Lanning. “But once we brought the plant up for operation our first radium test result was well below the limit. We got this right on the first try.”
Rochelle Mayor Chet Olson thanked everyone for their contributions to the two-year project.
“This is another great milestone for the Rochelle community,” Olson said. “This is a beautiful facility that blends nicely in the area. This is quite a project that takes a lot of people involved to build.”
City manager Jeff Fiegenschuh discussed how the radium removal plant is in line with the infrastructure improvements and core service delivery that was identified in the city’s strategic plan. He acknowledged Mayor Olson and the current and past council members for their commitment to infrastructure investment.
He also thanked Lanning and the team for their work in the project.
“I want to thank Adam and his team for keeping this project within the budgeted amount and ensuring that it was completed in the time allotted in our compliance commitment agreement with the state of Illinois,” Fiegenschuh said. “Adam is one of the most professional and knowledgeable water and water reclamation professionals I have had the pleasure of working with. He works tirelessly to educate elected officials and the public on the need for continued investments in our water and water reclamation infrastructure.”
He also thanked the residents and customers of RMU.
“Our team appreciates you and we work hard every day to be a higher performing organization that works to keep you number one,” he added.
Lanning explained the site elevation had to be raised over two feet to compensate for the flood plain. The project was financed through a low-interest Illinois EPA loan with $500,000 debt forgiveness.