Aug 12, 2023
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A hazardous leak closed a portion of Interstate 264 in Louisville and enacted a shelter in place for some citizens Saturday morning, according to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
A Louisville Fire Department official reported later in the afternoon that a tank at a Metro Sewer District facility off Bells Lane was leaking peracetic acid into the air.
"The Bells Lane facility, it's an overflow facility to our major Morris Forman Waste Water treatment plant. When that reaches capacity, that flow comes into Bells Lane and it gets treated with that chemical," said Harold Adams, Metropolitan Sewer District.
You can watch officials' entire comments in the player below.
It was reported a little after 12:30 p.m. that hazardous materials were present in both the east and west lanes of the Shawnee Expressway portion of I-264 between Dumesnil Street and Cane Run Road.
People were being told to shelter in place west of Cane Run Road from Algonquin Parkway to Camp Ground Road.
The fire official said the shelter-in-place was in effect as they worked to get the chemical reaction that caused the peracetic acid leak under control.
"The initial concern was the reaction being taken place in the vessels. The reaction is still taking place however, it is minimized with us dumping copious amounts of water on those vessels and cooling them, so we feel like at this time the incident is stabilized," said Jason Meiman, Pleasure Ridge Park fire chief.
At around 5 p.m., the shelter-in-place was lifted and around 7 p.m. lanes opened back up.
"The shelter-in-place that we did was an overabundance of caution, and like I said, it's a very small footprint," said Jody Meiman, Louisville Metro Emergency Services.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Due to a chemical spill in the Bells Lane area, a shelter in place order has been issued for areas along and west of Cane Run Road from Algonquin Parkway to Camp Ground Rd. <a href="https://t.co/SZYnirrx2S">pic.twitter.com/SZYnirrx2S</a></p>— Emergency Services (@LouMetroES) <a href="https://twitter.com/LouMetroES/status/1687871559132958720?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 5, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
The leak is coming from the relief valve at the top of one of the large tank vessels on site.
Fire crews have set up large hoses to blast a constant stream of cold water over the vessel to cool down and slow the chemical reaction. They hope this will stop the leak completely.
If it does not, they are working on other inhibitors to stop the reaction and, therefore, leak permanently.
Peracetic acid is used by MSD to treat water at the plant before it is released back into the Ohio River.
Officials said that the acid will give off a vinegar-like smell but advised that just because someone smells vinegar in the air does not mean they have been exposed.
MSD officials said they will have to calculate just how much acid was released into the atmosphere at a later time.
The leaks were all on the exterior of the building with no interior leaks, the fire official said.
This story will be updated if more information becomes available. LOUISVILLE, Ky. —You can watch officials' entire comments in the player below.