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Friday, July 22, 2022
Eastman releases methyl iodide, iodine into air, oil into Holston River
KINGSPORT – Eastman released methyl iodide and iodine into the air and oil into the river on Friday, the chemical company announced in an update.
According to Eastman, the Kingsport plant has been safely shut down after a power outage on Friday morning. Following the shutdown, oil was released into the river. The company also said methyl iodide and iodine, which appeared from the plant as a “purple plume,” was released into the air.
“During this release, our safety systems minimized the impact of the emissions from this event as confirmed by air dispersion modeling,” Eastman’s latest press release update stated. “Air dispersion modeling indicated this event did not pose any risk to human health or the environment outside the plant. All releases were reported to the regulatory agencies as required.”
All releases were reported to its regulatory agencies as required, the company said. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation told the Times News the release into the air is still under investigation.
“TDEC staff have been in communication with Eastman personnel and we are investigating the air release,” said Kim Schofinski, Deputy Communications Director at Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, in an email.
“TDEC staff reported to the area today to investigate any potential impacts to the South Fork Holston River from a reported release of an unknown oil substance by the facility. Our staff did not observe any impacts to fish or aquatic life. We will continue to communicate with Eastman personnel about this ongoing situation.”
According to Eastman, there is “no risk to the community as a result of this outage” and no one was injured.
“The most important responsibility we have is the safety of our employees and our community,” said Mark Bogle, Eastman vice president and Tennessee manufacturing site leader, in the release. “There were no injuries as a result of this event and Eastman did not issue any evacuation notices. In an excess of caution, employees located in the south area of the plant were asked to remain indoors and were released after a short time. As soon as we were aware of this incident, we established communication with city officials, and I would like to thank them for their partnership during this incident. I understand that events like today’s power loss can cause concern in our community. We are working to determine the cause and restart the site in the coming days.”
Kingsport Central Dispatch received a call from Eastman at 10:17 a.m. on Friday requesting one Kingsport Fire Department engine respond to the Eastman Fire Department to stand-by in reference to a power outage, the Kingsport Police Department said in a press release.
Officials said at 11:02 a.m., City Manager Chris McCartt activated the Emergency Operations Center at Kingsport Central Dispatch. At 3:31 p.m. the Kingsport Fire Department cleared the scene and at 3:33, the Emergency Operations Center at Kingsport Central Dispatch was deactivated.
“In situations such as this, city officials rely heavily upon subject matter experts at Eastman to provide them with accurate and timely information that can in turn be shared with the public,” the release from the KPD said. “Based upon information city officials have received, Eastman has given no indication of any injuries, a threat onsite or outside of the plant, or a risk to the community as a result of this incident. Moving forward, city officials will maintain active communications with Eastman regarding this event.”
Update as of 12:50 p.m. Kingsport 911/Sullivan County 911 issued a notification to subscribers Friday around 12:50 p.m. The alert said the city is working with Eastman following the morning's events at the plant. The message reads:
"The City of Kingsport is in communication with Eastman Chemical Company regarding an event earlier today. City officials are currently monitoring the situation in an attempt to gather further information. Eastman officials have advised that they do not have reason to believe that there is a threat onsite or outside of the plant. At this time, until more facts are obtained, citizens are strongly urged to avoid the area ..."