Rubbertown Plant Reports Second Chemical Release in Two Weeks

by Erica Peterson on August 5, 2011

Around 5:00 in the morning, American Synthetic Rubber reported a toluene release at its Rubbertown plant—the second one at the plant in two weeks. Toluene is a sweet-smelling, colorless solvent. It’s used to make rubber, and can be dangerous if inhaled in large quantities.

The release was minor, and it was classified as a level one hazmat situation—the lowest classification. But Rubbertown residents say it highlights the need for a community-wide alert system. A message was recorded to the RCALL hotline this morning informing residents about the incident and letting them know there was no danger to the neighborhood, but residents had to call the number to get the information.

The city is working to install a more comprehensive alert system in the area, and in June, Mayor Greg Fischer estimated the system would be in place by mid-August. But it looks like that won’t happen.

Phil Miller in the Mayor’s Office says the process is taking longer than expected, but the city is in the final stages of negotiation.

“As soon as we have the contract in place we will be working with the firm to have them put this alert system in place just as rapidly as possible.”

Miller estimated the contract should be finalized sometime next week.

American Synthetic Rubber didn’t return calls for comment on this story.

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