10:48 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Chemical Plume Reaches Louisville; Water Co. Says Treatment Plants Removing Chemical as Expected

Shelves in the Highlands Kroger were emptied of drinking water jugs this morning, even though the Louisville Water Company has assured customers the tap water is safe to drink.
Erica Peterson WFPL

A chemical plume traveling down the Ohio River reached Louisville early this morning, and a water company spokeswoman says the treatment plants are handling the chemical as expected and there's no danger to the public.

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2:49 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Pregnant Women Cautioned on W. Va.'s Drinking Water; Louisville Water Co. Says It's Safe Here

Erica Peterson WFPL

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned pregnant West Virginians in the areas affected by last week’s chemical spill that they might want to drink bottled water until there’s no methylcyclohexane methanol detected in the region’s water system.

Let’s put aside the facts that it’s a little bit ridiculous that the CDC came out with this recommendation nearly a full week after the spill, and that the fact sheet the agency distributed repeatedly contains the phrases “no information” and “no known risk” (emphasis mine—and see yesterday’s post about the reasons there’s little information about this chemical).

But should pregnant women in Louisville sip freely on the city’s water when the chemical plume reaches the city Friday?

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1:35 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

As Chemical Moves Down Ohio River,West Virginia Spill Highlights Missing, Insufficient Data

Creative Commons

The chemical plume created by a spill in Charleston, West Virginia, is traveling down the Ohio River by Cincinnati today. The spill was discovered Friday; 7,500 gallons of a chemical used to clean coal called methylcyclohexane methanol—or MCHM—leaked into the Elk River, and contaminated the region’s drinking water for days.

Now, communities along the Ohio River are dealing with the spill’s aftermath in different ways. The Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky water districts have elected to close water intakes until the chemical passes, just in case. But Louisville still plans to keep its intakes open. Spokeswoman Kelley Dearing-Smith said the water company believes the chemical will be so diluted by the time it gets here, it will be treated by the company’s riverbank filtration system and won’t pose any threat to human health.

“This is not a health concern and we don’t believe customers are going to notice anything at all,” she said. “They certainly won’t notice any difference in the quality of their drinking water, and they shouldn’t notice any difference in the taste or odor of their drinking water.”

That will probably be the case. But all of these water districts—in West Virginia, in Cincinnati, in Louisville—are basing their decisions on science which very may well be flawed: information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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6:00 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

In Kentucky, No Immediate Danger From West Virginia Chemical Spill, But Could it Happen Here?

Credit Creative Commons

The plume of a hazardous chemical from a spill that contaminated the water for 9 counties in West Virginia has made it to the Ohio River. But the Louisville Water Company says the chemical doesn’t pose a danger to the region’s drinking water.

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10:44 am
Fri January 10, 2014

A Coal-Cleaning Chemical Spills in West Virginia, Prompting State of Emergency

Harry Schaefer U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

My former home of Charleston, West Virginia—as well as an nine county radius—is under a state of emergency today after an unknown amount of 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol spilled into the Elk River. The river supplies drinking water to the area.

The spill happened at a chemical plant that manufactures a product used to wash coal at processing plants in the region. Now, as many as 100,000 people, and possible more, have been warned not to drink, cook or wash with their tap water.

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9:00 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Study Finds Dangerous Flame Retardants in Children's Furniture

Ninety percent of chairs marketed to children--like this one--were found to contain toxic flame retardants.
Flickr/Creative Commons

A new analysis of furniture made specifically for children has revealed that the majority of it contains toxic flame retardant chemicals.

The study was conducted by the non-profit Center for Environmental Health and researchers at Duke University. They analyzed 42 children’s couches and chairs from big box retailers, and found that 90 percent of them contain flame retardant chemicals that have been linked to serious health problems.

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5:21 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Obama Issues Executive Order Addressing Chemical Plant Safety

Erica Peterson WFPL

In the wake of a deadly explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant, President Obama has issued an executive order to improve the safety and security of chemical manufacturing facilities. The measure will likely have implications for Louisville's Rubbertown.

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8:19 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

At Public Meeting, Black Leaf Residents Question Regulators About Clean-Up Plans

Cleanup is scheduled to begin later this summer on 77 homes near the former Black Leaf Chemical site in Louisville, where testing has revealed widespread environmental contamination. At a public meeting tonight, residents were angry.

By all accounts, the former Black Leaf Chemical site in Louisville’s Park Hill neighborhood is contaminated. Regulators found high levels of pesticides, lead and arsenic in the soil on the site. Then more recently, testing in the private yards that back up to the plant revealed some contamination on 77 private properties.

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4:59 pm
Mon June 17, 2013

Magazine's Analysis Shows Stockpiles of Ammonium Nitrate in KY, IN, TN

Federal investigators are still looking into the April explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas that killed 14 people. The explosion was called by a chemical called ammonium nitrate, and a new media analysis shows the chemical is stored in locations in Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee.

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4:38 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

New Chemical Safety Bill Introduced; Health Advocates Say It's Lacking

A bipartisan bill to reform some of the country’s laws regulating chemicals has been introduced in the Senate, but some environmental advocates say it’s missing key provisions.

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