KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — Eastman Chemical Company on Friday morning confirmed a power outage at the manufacturing site at 10:58 a.m.
Viewers began to flood News Channel 11’s phone and inbox with calls and messages raising concerns surrounding a purple vapor that appeared to be rising from the Eastman facility.
Over an hour later at 12:08 p.m., Eastman officials provided an update regarding the outage, revealing that the facility was working to shut down operations at its site. While the site worked toward a shutdown, Eastman officials stated in a news release that “loud steam venting will occur and plumes of steam will be visible.”
One such steam release was identified as iodine from a site flare, resulting in a purple vapor, which has since stopped.
A 3:45 p.m. update from Eastman stated that in fact, both methyl iodide and iodine had been released into the air. In addition, Eastman reported oil was also released into the South Fork of the Holston River. The company confirmed Friday night it released ethylene glycol and hydraulic oil into the river as a result of the power outage.
However, company officials said there is no risk to the surrounding community.
“During this release, our safety systems minimized the impact of the emissions from this event as confirmed by air dispersion modeling,” the release states. “Air dispersion modeling indicated this event did not pose any risk to human health or the environment outside the plant.”
Eastman officials said that the proper regulatory agencies and downstream users of the river have been notified, and all operations at the facility have been “safely shut down.”
Crews were working to restore power at the site as of Friday afternoon. While those efforts are underway, Eastman officials said nearby residents can expect to hear loud steam venting and will likely see more steam than usual.
No injuries were reported Friday as a result of the outage and releases, Eastman reports.
The chemical company continues to work with the City of Kingsport as the situation develops, according to Eastman. A voicemail from Kingsport alerts community members that officials continue to monitor the situation. City leaders also advised against traveling near the Eastman facility to avoid traffic congestion and delays.
News Channel 11 reached out to several spokespeople with Eastman, officials with the City of Kingsport, the Kingsport Police Department, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) and the Kingsport Fire Department for more information.
Before Eastman released its update, Kingsport EMA Director Jim Bean confirmed with News Channel 11 that the department had been notified of a power outage along with a “release that caused a sheen on the water.”
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