City evaluating Code Red alert system after Dupont spill
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A day after a hazardous chemical leak, Dupont workers returned to the job even as hydrochloric acid continues to spill.
Dupont Fluoroproducts safety leaders say 1,375 lbs. of hydrochloric acid have spilled into the air, and another 270 lbs. leaked into the ground since Sunday.
"It's a hotzone, still, as we are working through to continue our neutralization efforts," said Bhanu Calvert, of Dupont Fluoroproducts.
Firefighters say the leak continues, but is contained as the company tries to salvage the remaining chemical substance from a 500,000-gallon tank.
"The process is they're moving the product from the leaking vessel to more secure containers," said Fred George, the Lake Dreamland Fire chief. "We're assessing the level in the tanks and starting to neutralize the acid."
Hydrochloric acid is a clear, colorless solution of hydrogen chloride in water. It is commonly used in making products such as fertilizers.
We're told that neutralization includes applying limestone and soda ash.
The 180 Dupont workers returning Monday are being kept away from the troubled area.
"We have already begun our investigation -- the things that we can without going into the hotzone area," Calvert said. "We think the neutralization will take about two days."
The spill proves another test for the city's emergency notification system.
"I believe within five minutes of us being on-scene, the Code Red alert was issued," George said.
Metro government implemented Code Red -- a reverse 9-1-1 system -- after a fatal explosion at a different Rubbertown plant two years ago.
This time, Code Red warned neighbors to shelter-in-place for three hours, but it seems notification may still be an issue. In the neighborhood affected by that 1-mile shelter in place Monday afternoon, many people had never heard of Code Red. One person didn't have any idea what it was. A lady across the street had no idea how to sign up.
The Miller family didn't know, and they've lived there for 10 years.
"I though someone was coming by to sign you up for that," said Janis Miller.
The couple says they learned of the stay-in orders through media reports, and would have better appreciated a knock at the door.
"We look for people to be good neighbors," Miller said.
Meanwhile, Dupont wants the Millers and others like them to know one thing.
"The community is safe, the environment is safe, and our employees are safe," Calvert said.
We asked Metrosafe officials how many people in the affected shelter-in-place area were actually signed up for Code Red. They are working on gathering this data, but could not get that information back to us by our deadline.
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