Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 17, 2012

911 agency’s message to DuPont: Just call me

Mike James
The Independent

WURTLAND — A minor chemical release last week at DuPont’s Wurtland plant hopefully will lead to better communication between the plant and Greenup County’s emergency dispatchers, plant and county officials say.

The release was small, about 10 pounds of sulfuric acid that escaped from a storage tank in mist form, and was stopped in less than 15 minutes, plant manager Curtis Tritapoe said.

However, once the word got out that chemicals had been released, several callers notified the Greenup County 911 agency. That caught dispatchers off guard because DuPont had not notified them, 911 director Buford Hurley said.

Dispatchers immediately sent police and firefighters and notified the county emergency management agency, he said.

But they would have been able to respond quicker and more efficiently if they had known what was happening at the plant.

The plant didn’t break the law or violate any regulations, but notifying 911 immediately is the sensible thing to do, Hurley said. “When something happens, we are the first to get calls. That’s what people have learned all their lives, to call 911.”

When the release happened, plant officials notified a business next door to shelter in place and then worked on stopping the discharge, Tritapoe said. Once that happened, the escaped acid dissipated rapidly. There were no injuries and no one was in danger outside the plant.

Hurley and Tritapoe said they have talked to one another. DuPont is reviewing its emergency procedures and will revise them to include notifying 911 on incidents that might have impact outside the plant, Tritapoe said.

He and Hurley plan to meet in about two weeks to finalize the plan.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or

(606) 326-2652.