A Code Red alert was issued as a precaution to Rubbertown residents today, after a 20% solution of sodium hydroxide was released at Lubrizol’s plant. Metropolitan Sewer District and the Lake Dreamland Fire Department responded; it was classified as a Level 1 hazmat, and authorities decided there was no risk to the public.
But this was the fourth chemical spill in about two weeks in the area, beginning with the hydrochloric acid release on June 9 at DuPont’s plant. Last week, American Synthetic Rubber reported two releases of hydraulic fluid–one of 150 gallons, and one of 60 to 80 gallons.
Regardless of the actual danger to the public, four chemical emergencies in two weeks underscores the psychological stress of which Rubbertown residents have complained. It’s probably worth taking a look at these words from Councilwoman Attica Scott, in a story published after the initial leak at the DuPont plant:
The plant is in Councilwoman Attica Scott’s district…along with many other chemical companies and a coal-fired power plant. Scott says the city needs to take action to show these residents that they aren’t forgotten.
“People in neighborhoods far too often feel like they are disposable people, that they live in throwaway neighborhoods, because they carry such a heavy burden with these kinds of environmental justice issues, from coal ash at the LG&E Cane Run Plant, to 19 chemical companies along the Rubbertown corridor,” she said.
Scott says the current situation isn’t sustainable.
“It’s a heavy burden for folks to carry, and they feel like they’re often ignored,” she said. “When something like this happens, they should hear us as elected officials crying out, and getting to the point where we no longer are crying out, but we’re taking real action.”
Scott says ultimately, society will have to wean itself off chemical dependency so toxic substances won’t have to be used at the plants. She plans to facilitate a conversation between the mayor and concerned residents soon.