In Rubbertown, industrial and residential areas coexist.
Credit Credit Erica Peterson / WFPL
All of the major factories in Louisville's Rubbertown area have permits that allow them to put specific amounts of certain chemicals into the air. But when residents report unpleasant smells, it’s hard to know where they’re coming from and whether a factory is violating its permit. If you live near Rubbertown on the West End, there's a lot to worry about. There's a possibility of a major disaster—like the explosion that ripped through the DuPont plant in 1965 or the 2011 explosion at Union Carbide. But day-to-day, the pressing concern is the odor in the air and what chemicals and health complications they might bring.
In the late 1990s, Louisville spent nearly $200 million revitalizing a blighted area on the West End. Park DuValle emerged—and has since been nationally-recognized as a model mixed-income community. But one thing the city couldn't change was the neighborhood's location. And like the housing projects that stood before it, Park DuValle is next to Louisville’s industrial area. Residents say the odors in the air are often unbearable.
Trish Lee’s small yellow house is a block away from Bells Lane, where many of the Rubbertown factories are concentrated. From her backyard, she can’t see the chemical plants, rail yards and oil refineries that have stood down the street for decades — but she can smell them just about anywhere.
Lexington city crews are out and about scanning for cut Christmas trees in area neighborhoods. The tree recycling program has been in place for years. Outreach and Education Director Mark York says all kinds of evergreens are ground up and the mulch distributed throughout the year to area citizens. “A live cut tree is again a resource that we can use and turn that into mulch, instead of that tree going to a landfill. The most important thing for residents is to be sure to remove all the decorations and lights from the tree before we pick it up and take it to the pad where it will be turned into mulch,” said York.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is urging motorists to use caution because of high winds in the forecast for today and tonight. The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory, indicating the region can expect sustained winds above 20 miles per hour with gusts as high as 50 miles per hour at times through tonight. This will create hazardous driving conditions until at least midnight and possibly into Friday morning.
The federal government has strengthened the national air quality standard for soot and fine particle pollution. The new standard is 20 percent more stringent than the current standard, which was set in 1997. It will require communities to make sure fine particle pollution is limited to 12 micrograms per cubic meter annually (the current limit is 15).
Storage igloos at Bluegrass Army Depot. This winter, crews of five workers will disassemble 44 chemical weapons rockets inside an empty igloo.
Given its age, it’s time to test the stability of rocket fuel stored at the Bluegrass Army Depot. This winter, officials hope to remove propellants from 44 rockets, and truck most of it to New Jersey for safety tests. Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Grice, who commands the operation, says they’ll implement numerous safeguards. Grice says the biggest risk is the accidental ignition of a rocket motor.
A new analysis by the federal government shows that coal-fired electricity is losing ground in a former stronghold: the Southeast. Coal's share of the nation's electricity generation has been slipping over the past few years; in July, preliminary data suggested for the first time, natural gas and coal both provided the same amount (32 percent) of the U.S.'s electricity. But coal usage has typically been higher in the Southeast.
So far there are no bats hibernating in an artificial cave built in Tennessee to help protect the animals from a deadly fungus. But the project’s sponsors are holding out hope for next year. White Nose Syndrome is caused by a white fungus, and is deadly to bats. Since 2006, it’s killed nearly 6 million bats in four Canadian provinces and 21 states, including Kentucky. In an effort to protect some bats—and to stop the spread of the disease—the Nature Conservancy in Tennessee recently finished an artificial cave in a hill northwest of Nashville.
If you want to look at sandhill cranes--or just shoot them--opportunities abound this season. Kentucky's second annual sandhill crane hunting season runs December 15 to January 13. Barren River Lake Wildlife Management Area is a popular spot for the birds--and therefore for the hunters, too--but there are several areas that are designated as off-limits.
Lexington city leaders have their ‘sewer improvement’ focus on a sizeable project located at the doorstep to the Fayette County community. But, it’s just one of a number of expensive and highly visible projects on a list aimed to meet a federal government mandate. There remain questions about balancing future needs against the will of taxpayers to pay for these improvements.
Anyone who watched television footage of Lexington during last year’s Final Four knows that if you try hard enough, couches can burn. But because of a California state law requiring the inclusion of flame retardants, most are made with some chemicals designed to slow burning down. And a new analysis of couch cushions from around the country shows that several toxic or carcinogenic chemicals are still common ingredients in most couches.
The state enjoyed a pleasant mid-November weekend and more of the same is on tap for the Thanksgiving week. Highs Monday through Thursday will be in the low- to mid-60s with the mercury taking a slight dip to the mid-50s on Friday.
A recent audit of garbage collected in downtown Lexington shows almost half of it could have gone into the recycling bin. In response, city and non-profit agencies have launched an education campaign that targets downtown businesses. Lexington Vice Mayor Linda Gorton says they could make recycling mandatory, but Gorton wants to offer those businesses a carrot.
A rail car hauling a flammable chemical is still burning in southwest Jefferson County following Monday's derailment and Wednesday's explosion and flash fire. But water is no longer being used on the burning car because the situation is said to be stable and the fire will be allowed to burn itself out, officials said, according to WAVE-TV. A crane is expected to be put in place at the site on Friday to begin the process of moving rail cars not hauling hazardous cargo.
The National Weather Service offices in Louisville and Paducah have issued freeze warnings for tonight and early Thursday. Most of the area affected is bounded by I-65 on the east and south of the Western Kentucky and Blue Grass parkways.
The National Weather Service office in Jackson said a winter storm warning remains in effect for Harlan, Letcher and Pike counties until 8 a.m. Wednesday. Above 2,000 feet, snowfall will continue through much of the day today and through tonight. Below 2,000 feet elevation, rain will mix with and change to wet snow this morning changing back to rain this afternoon.
Eight rail cars of a 39-car Paducah and Louisville train derailed early today in extreme southwest Jefferson County forcing the evacuation of 34 homes in the vicinity of Abbotts Beach Road and Katherine Station Road. At least one of the derailed cars resulted in a chemical leak into the air and a Level 3 Hazmat Alert has been issued. That's the highest level of hazmat alert.
The National Weather Service has downgraded the winter storm watch for southeast Kentucky to a winter weather advisory for snow - which runs from 10 p.m. today through noon Tuesday.The weather service's Jackson office said rain will mix with and change to snow tonight and then change back to rain by noon Tuesday. Snow accumulations of up to 2 inches are expected in low-lying areas and 2-4 inches in elevations above 2,000 feet.
Some 16 central Kentucky arts projects are receiving government support to further an environmental message. This year’s Eco-Art grants cover everything from performances, to photographs, to sculptures. Each has an environmental theme. Lexington Mayor Jim Gray says the Eco-Art program helps the city creatively connects citizens with the environment.