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Friday, May 23, 2008

Eastman: Vapor release posed no threat

Remember years ago on Lincoln Street, when you could go from one end of our next-door neighbor Tennessee Eastman to the other, and smell several different, distinct smells? You can't anymore, so any smell in the air is now considered unusual. Ah.. the good ole days....

• KINGSPORT — Eastman Chemical Co. officials on Thursday explained a smell in Kingsport that resulted in numerous calls to the company and public safety organizations.

According to an Eastman press release, about 9 a.m. Thursday a relief valve opened due to a pressure buildup in the polymers manufacturing area. The equipment responded correctly, but as a result vapors were released. This created a strong odor in the surrounding area. The odor is from a material known as DowTherm, which is a heat transfer fluid used to heat up reactors. The material has an aromatic odor (some described it as flowery). When handled properly and in low doses, there is no danger to human health, Eastman said. But even at low concentrations, DowTherm can be smelled. Given the short period of time in which the release occurred, the concentrations smelled beyond Eastman’s property were quite low.