Injured in Beach Park ammonia leak?
Call (612) 337-6126

Elliot Olsen is one of the few lawyers in the country experienced in anhydrous ammonia cases. If you know someone injured in the Beach Park ammonia leak, you should persuade them to call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.

No criminal charges will be filed because of the April 25 Beach Park ammonia leak, the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office announced in Waukegan, Illinois.

At least one lawsuit has been filed alleging that the anhydrous ammonia leak from a truck on Green Bay Road resulted from “willful and wanton” conduct, but State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim said his office determined that no laws were broken.

“We screened the case with the (Lake County) Sheriff’s Office, and while the conduct of the worker may have been negligent, it didn’t rise to the level of criminal conduct,” Nerheim said.

Although some states have negligence laws that would apply to the situation, Nerheim said Illinois does not. Illinois does have a criminal reckless conduct law, but the standard is very high.

Beach Park is a village in the Benton and Waukegan townships of Lake County. The population was 13,638 at the 2010 census.

Beach Park ammonia leak: No criminal charges

No criminal charges will be filed because of the April 25 Beach Park ammonia leak, the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office announced.

Beach Park ammonia leak:
Back to the beginning

At least 37 people were hospitalized and several schools closed after the Beach Park ammonia leak about 50 miles north of Chicago. Officials told people who live within a mile of the incident to stay inside, a “shelter-in-place” order that was lifted after about five hours.

Seven of the injured were taken to hospitals in critical condition. Among those hospitalized were three first-responders: two sheriff’s deputies and one Zion police officer.

What happened?

At about 4:30 a.m. on April 25, the Lake County Sheriff’s office received a 911 call about a possible vehicle fire at Green Bay Road and 29th Street. When two deputies arrived, they discovered anhydrous ammonia leaking from at least one of two 2-ton tanks being hauled by a tractor.

The deputies were overcome by fumes and were forced to retreat, Lake County Sheriff’s Sgt. Chris Covelli said. He said firefighters wearing protective gear rescued several people who were on the ground near the leak.

Using the village’s reverse 911 system, Beach Park officials notified anyone living within a 1-mile radius of the spill to stay indoors, keep their doors and windows closed, and turn off air conditioning or ventilation systems.

Nearby resident Pamela Burnett told Chicago’s WGN-TV she didn’t realize the cloud was toxic as she drove through it. “The next thing I know I couldn’t breathe, I was suffocating.” Burnett said. “My eyes were watering … I was just, I was panicking.”

Beach Park ammonia leak:
Permanent damage possible

In late May, about a month after the leak, officials said some of the injured might be disabled permanently. Asked how serious injuries could be, Vista Medical Center director Kenji Oyasu said: “Only time will tell.”

Several victims spent as much as a week in intensive care because of the chemical burns to their lungs. Many of those who were injured said they are still ill, and some said they are still seeing lung specialists. Some have reported experiencing partial blindness, as well as an inability to speak and persistent lung problems, including coughing.

Beach Park ammonia leak:
Chemical used for fertilizer

Anhydrous ammonia is most commonly used by farmers to fertilize soil. The chemical, however, turns from liquid to gas quickly when it is not under pressure.

A spokesperson for the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association said that in the case of the Beach Park ammonia leak, the hose on the tanker apparently was connected, which can produce a dangerous situation. Under Illinois state law, that is not allowed while transporting anhydrous ammonia on public roads.

Illinois has about 28,000 anhydrous ammonia tanks. They are inspected by the Illinois Department of Agriculture annually. On average, there are fewer than 10 leaks a year, according to the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association.


Elliot Olsen is one of the few lawyers with experience representing people harmed by anhydrous ammonia. You can contact him for a free consultation by filling out the following form and submitting it: