Rubbertown Residents Sound Off About Plant Explosion

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer met with over 200 residents of the Rubbertown neighborhood Monday to hear their concerns about an explosion at a chemical plant in the area.

The meeting comes a week after a fire at the Carbide Industries plant killed two workers and closed streets in the area for hours.

Activist Charles Pope praised the mayor for holding the meeting but says there are still unanswered questions and concerns among residents about the cause of the blast.

“When you live down here in this area and you already know that there’s a soup of toxic chemicals in the air right now, then you know there was a fire down there. We don’t know the extent of what this fire really has done. We don’t know what it has emitted into the air. We don’t know what from the chemicals that were burning with what’s already in the air, we don’t know what the effect of that’s going to be,” he says.

Federal officials from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board arrived last week to investigate, along with Kentucky OSHA officials and local fire investigators, who are working to develop possible theories about the explosions cause.

Fischer said that remedies are forthcoming, but many in attendance told him they believe the city’s inadequate warning system to last week’s deadly chemical plant explosion is a wake-up call.

Resident De’Nita Wright says that their patience is running out.

“Time will tell, and time better not be too long that’s all I say. When a chemical plant exploded, okay you know what’s going on but I don’t. Think of the mental processes that are going off. The hurt, the confusion. I have a family I have to protect. I can’t protect them if I don’t know how,” she says.

Other residents told the mayor that the neighborhood has been neglected by city officials and plant operators for decades, arguing that the neighborhood has always been left uninformed during a chemical leak.

Fischer has already announced plans to purchase a system that will give residents faster updates about industrial accidents. The city has also taken over the Rubbertown phone hotline that notifies residents about chemical leaks.