What Happens to a Business After a Destructive Event?

Disasters happen more often than you think. Fires, floods, hurricanes, and other destructive events can not only bring severe damage to a business’s building, but hazardous waste can arise from the aftermath.

On June 14, 2021, a chemical plant in Rockton, Illinois suffered an explosion and fire. It destroyed the building and sending hazardous debris into the surrounding area. Less than a month later, in Morris, Illinois, an industrial fire caused a mass evacuation due to the burning of hundreds of thousands of lithium batteries.

Fires like these can require concrete or cement to put out in order to protect the surrounding environment from the hazardous waste. But, how can the businesses themselves stay protected?

When Chemtool suffered its chemical explosion, hazardous debris littered many Rockton lawns and forced an evacuation of homes within a mile radius of the plant. While the fire burned for days, firefighters made the wise decision to not use any more water in order to avoid letting chemicals flow into the Rock River, which would have been a catastrophic event not just for Chemtool, but for the community as a whole.

Additionally, reluctance to take action can be detrimental to the community. The lithium released by Superior Battery’s industrial fire was so toxic that 5,000 people needed to be temporarily evacuated.

About 40% of businesses fail to reopen following a destructive event. We’re here to tell you what happens following a disaster so that your business doesn’t become a statistic.

How to Start Recovery from a Destructive Event Involving Hazardous Waste

Preventative Action

In some instances, disasters can be avoided with regular maintenance and checks on your building and activities. While it may feel obvious, it is easy to forget to check on potential hazards in your building when you are busy focusing on other things.  

Regularly checking on potential risks, especially fire risks, can be the difference in the survival of a business, but also in human life and death. This is especially important if your business works in construction, automotive, or chemicals/laboratories. These industries have the potential to suffer a hazardous material disaster due to the nature of the materials they work with, so it is imperative to make sure that you are taking precautions to avoid these events.

The EPA has specific sets of requirements that pertain to Small Quantity Generators (SQGs) and Large Quantity Generators (LQGs) of hazardous waste, but states also have their own safety regulations. The EPA does not require SQGs to have a written contingency plan, but does strongly recommend it. They provide a useful template for planning an emergency response along with other useful information in their Small Business Guide.


Many destructive events are unavoidable regardless of how many preventative measures you’ve taken. Natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, or tornadoes are difficult to combat. If you find that your business has suffered significant damage, you should start with transparent communication.

When an emergency response is needed, it is important that all of the details about possible hazardous materials are communicated to the dispatcher for the safety of the first responders and protection of the immediate vicinity. Then, talk to your attorneys, your bank, your investors, suppliers, insurance company, etc.

The fallout from a natural disaster event needs to be met head on. Make sure that you explain your situation to anyone who is relevant as soon as possible and with full transparency. This is necessary to make sure that you are getting the support you need to rebuild your business.

Make sure to fully communicate with your staff if there will be a period of closure that could affect them. It may be prudent to tell them not to talk with the media if there is any question of liability.

Call HWH Environmental

If a destructive event has left your business with an influx of hazardous waste, call HWH Environmental as soon as possible.

We are specialists in the transport and disposal of hazardous waste and are here to keep the environment clean. We strive to exceed your expectations with our highly trained and experienced team to ensure your business gets back on its feet as quickly and safely as possible.

Contact us today to get a free quote.