DECEMBER 17, 2006 - Louisville, KY
Rohm and Haas Spill More Than a Nusiance
Over the past few days, we have heard much about the toxic chemical spill characterized much more mildly by the media as a "nusiance" or "stench" that occurred last Thursday through Friday. What smells even worse than the odors that seeped into my home early Friday morning is the stench of a cover up.
The chemical in question... Ethyl Acrylate is listed as a probable carcinogen and is suspected of being a:
• Developmental Toxicant
• Gastrointestinal and Liver Toxicant
• Kidney Toxicant
• Respiratory Toxicant
• Skin or Sense Organ Toxicant
What makes things even worse is that ethyl acrylate was more than likely not the only chemical lingering in the air on the night and morning in question (Thursday and Friday, December 14-15, 2006). Rubbertown chemical facilities release numerous chemicals that are considered toxic and hazardous to humans. Every 12 days air monitors within the community detect numerous chemicals that in many cases produce the same or even worse health hazards as ethyl acrylate. So just imagine the potential affect that even low levels of more than one toxic chemical could have on individuals living within the community.
In the Courier Journal (Saturday, December 16, 2006), Rohm and Haas apologized for any inconveniences the incident may have caused. An inconvenience is far less than what my husband and I experienced when we began exhibiting symptoms of exposure in our home around 2:30 AM Friday morning.
Our symptoms included burning eyes, scratchy throat, headache, sneezing, increased mucous in our throats, stomach "queeziness" and almost vomiting on more than one occasion. So no, this was not a simple inconvenience. Even when we could no longer detect the odor outdoors, the odor became trapped in our home until early Saturday morning with a trace of it remaining in our vehicles even today.
Beyond having to deal with these symptoms (some of them even today), I had a long night of unrest as I attempted from 2:47 AM Friday morning until 6:40 AM to receive a call back from the Air Pollution Control District (APCD) Odor Hotline. I finally resorted to contacting the director, Art Williams, at his home.
Numerous calls to the complaint line with no response is something REACT has been informing Metro Council and the Mayor about for years. So where does this leave us? It leaves us with multi-million and multi-billion dollar companies able to slowly (and sometimes quickly) poison the residents of a city whose response is little to non-existent.
This incident includes some of the issues residents have been talking to city officials about for years:
• ineffective or non-existent odor investigations
• lack of notice of spills during chemical incidents
• non-use of monitoring equipment near Rubbertown
To top it all off, we have MSD investigating what we believe is one of their peers. We're left wondering if the maximum fine will be applied. It's anyone's guess as we continue to hear that there was no threat to residents. Who are these people kidding? What about those people who already have systemic diseases or weakened immune systems? What about children whose lungs are not yet fully developed? What will the long term affects be on them especially considering that ethyl acrylate is suspected of being a developmental toxicant?
Even today, I received word from more than one person that the odor was still in the air.
We must remember that it is not uncommon for people to complain of odors violating their space within the confines of their homes.
If we as a community are serious about protecting our children, our seniors and others who are vulnerable to Rubbertowns' way of conducting business, we must pull together and do what must be done to ensure that protection.
REACT is not the sole fighter for the community. We are just a group of ordinary residents trying to stand up to those who threaten our well being. Many other individuals and groups are concerned as well. We hope that you will join us in this fight.
(Additional symptoms and risks can be found at http://www.state.nj.us/health/eoh/rtkweb/0843.pdf)