Chemical release in Rubbertown triggers LENS Alert

Neighbors said the release is indicative of the everyday dangers of living in Rubbertown.
Published: Nov. 19, 2021 at 9:34 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - At 2:20 a.m. Friday morning, a gas known as a cancer-causing substance sprayed out of a relief valve in the Zeon Chemical Plant on Bells Lane, causing Pleasure Ridge Park Fire Department’s HAZMAT team to respond.

The gas, formally called “1,3-Butadiene,” was released into the air for three minutes, according to Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District spokesperson Matthew Mudd.

The chemical is used in the production of synthetic rubber products.

The release was caused when a reactor pressurized as an agitator malfunctioned. An employee with Louisville Emergency Services said about 10 pounds of the gas escaped into the air - not enough to be an immediate threat to nearby neighbors.

If the amount of gas is enough to trigger an “excess emissions event,” Zeon would need to submit a detailed report to Louisville Metro’s APCD within 15 days.

Neighbors said the release is indicative of the everyday dangers of living in Rubbertown.

Byron Dewitt lives less than half a mile from Zeon.

“It’s shocking to hear about them releasing all that gas and stuff,” Dewitt said. “With that cancer and stuff, nobody wants to live around here. I mean, I don’t.”

Glen James has lived in Rubbertown for 12 years raising his daughter. He’s afraid he only hears about a small fraction of the dangers.

“It’s really scary , because you never ever really know what they’re actually doing around there,” James said. “The smell is so bad. As for other things, I am worried about the groundwater.”

In December of 2017, a much larger spill of “1,3-Butadiene” occurred at Zeon. 701 pounds was released across an eight-hour period. The company was fined $2,000.

Zeon Chemical has not responded to requests for comment at this time.

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