Emergency simulation held at Rubbertown plant

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – The report of a small explosion, fire and chemical leak at one of Rubbertown's manufacturing facilities was not a real emergency but a simulation for dozens of emergency responders.

Crews were simulating the type of emergencies they may encounter to see how everyone works together to make their operations better in case of a real incident. The drill took place Thursday at the American Synthetic Rubber Company, the same location of a chemical leak in August.

Glenn Kirby and his wife have lived in their Rubbertown home for 19 years. The couple does not live far from a manufacturing plant.

"I like it. It's quiet," Kirby said. "We really haven't had that much of a problem, I don't think. Sometimes in the summer time, you get some odors from wherever. I'm not sure where they come from."

Down the road at ASRC, 74 emergency responders were working an emergency drill. The scenario: a small explosion causing a fire and a small chemical leak.

"Some of the things that we wanna learn is, again, the communications between several different agencies who are on the scene," Asst. Chief Jody Meiman of the Lake Dreamland Fire Department. "Doing a drill to see how the facility people work along with the fire department. Along with how the fire departments and the hazardous materials response teams work together to make our operations go a lot better in the case of a real incident."

Kirby said their practice was a good idea.

"They need to practice on things like that. Just in case they do have one," said Kirby. "They gotta be prepared. They don't want to run in there, not knowing what's in there, and not come out. These fire departments, they do a good job."

In August, Toluene, a chemical used in rubber manufacturing, escaped from a tank at the ASRC plant. A backup system caught most of the chemical. Residents were never in danger and no one was hurt.

In March, Steve Nichols and Jorge "Louie" Medina both died in an explosion at Carbide Industries in Rubbertown.

Meiman said those two events will forever be in the minds of emergency workers in the area.

"Those are things that you never forget," said Meiman.

Meanwhile, should danger ever arise Kirby said he's ready.

"I'm as ready as I can get. I've got the keys to both vehicles, I'll be gone, assuming if they tell me I need to. Otherwise, I'm going to stay right here until they tell me I need to get out," said Kirby.

A Kentucky OSHA representative released the following statement Wednesday about the Toluene leak: 

"The investigation is continuing. The inspectors are reviewing documents provided and are awaiting other documents they have requested. At this point, I do not have a time table for the conclusion of the inspection."

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