KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – After a power outage and shutdowns across Eastman Chemical Company’s Kingsport campus, state environmental officials told News Channel 11 that more than 600 gallons of material classified as a mutagen was released into the South Fork Holston River.
“TDEC received a notification from the National Response Center on Friday that Eastman Chemical Co. had reported a release of an unknown oil substance into the South Fork Holston River,” said Eric Ward of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC). “The notification indicated that the facility had been shut down as a result while attempts to identify the substance were ongoing.”
As Eastman and state officials continued to investigate, it was determined that two spills on Friday consisted of an unknown amount of hydraulic fluid and roughly 600 gallons of ethylene glycol.
Ethylene Glycol, a key component in anti-freeze classified as a mutagenic that causes cell mutation in mammals, weighs roughly 9.3 pounds per gallon, according to charts listed by industrial chemical suppliers. Following that conversion rate, roughly 5,500 pounds of the material were released into the river on Friday.
Another release on Saturday consisted of an unknown quantity of firefighting foam as well. An Eastman spokesperson said a fire suppression system was triggered due to the power outage but there was no fire. The foam is not considered to be harmful to humans or the environment, according to the company.
TDEC reported that no impact to fish or aquatic life has been observed.
Environmental officials are still waiting on the exact chemicals and quantities released into the air Friday, though Eastman communications stated that the materials were likely Iodine and Methyl Iodide found within a plume of purple vapors spotted over Eastman’s campus. According to ThermoFisher Scientific safety information, mutations were observed in experimental animals exposed to Methyl Iodide.