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Butchertown Slaughterhouse Evacuation: Residents Complain About Sirens

An ammonia leak at the JBS plant in Butchertown yesterday caused the evacuation of about 700 workers. Firefighters urged residents in the neighborhood to stay indoors in the hours immediately after the leak.

About 80 pounds of anhydrous ammonia escaped from the plant at about 11:20 a.m Wednesday. High levels of ammonia can cause respiratory problems. Some Butchertown residents reported smelling ammonia after the leak. Louisville Fire and Rescue spokesperson Capt. Sal Melendez told the Courier-Journal that people might smell strong odors of the gas even if there are only trace amounts. Melendez said there were no levels of “harmful exposure” recorded outside the plant.

Sirens sounded a little more than an hour after the event, advising people nearby to stay indoors. Residents got the all clear at about 2:15pm. Some residents complained the fire department waited too long to sound the sirens. Spokesperson Melendez says officials activated the sirens after increasing the threat level of the leak.

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Local News

Letcher Co. Tap Water Contaminated 2nd Time

Letcher County residents have been warned not to use their tap water for anything but flushing toilets.  Division of Water spokeswoman Allison Fleck says officials began investigating the contaminated water supply last weekend.

“Around midnight on Sunday, the environmental response team pursued reports of a strong petroleum odor in the distribution system and traced that back to the water distribution in the plant,” says Fleck.

Fleck says officials have identified the source of the contamination, which was old, leaking petroleum storage tanks near the river that supplies the county’s drinking water.  In November of last year, a similar leak led to prosecution of the owner of some old storage tanks.  Fleck says legal action against the owner of the leaking tanks this time around is pending but not yet public.