Work Continues to Neutralize Chemical After Spill at DuPont Plant

Work is still ongoing to neutralize hundreds of thousands of gallons of a dangerous chemical at DuPont Louisville’s plant, after an equipment malfunction led to a leak yesterday.

DuPont officials say it seems a faulty flange on a 500,000 gallon tank of hydrochloric acid caused the leak. About 1500 pounds of the chemical was released into the air and onto the ground, and those living within a mile of the plant were told to shelter-in-place yesterday evening. Now, crews are working to neutralize the chemical and remove it, a process that could take up to two days.

Officials say the shelter-in-place was a precaution, and they don’t believe any hydrochloric acid left the plant. Even so, this leak is only the latest chemical emergency in the Rubbertown area, and nearby residents live with the constant worry of spills, leaks and explosions.

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.

Erica Peterson

Erica Peterson reports on energy and the environment for WFPL.

@ericampeterson

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