KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — Eastman Chemical Company released ethylene glycol and hydraulic oil into the South Fork Holston River as a result of Friday’s power outage, according to the company.
In an update Friday night, Eastman said it had notified “the appropriate regulatory agencies and downstream users.”
Ethylene glycol is used to make products such as paints, plastics, and cosmetics. It is also used as antifreeze.
The company did not say how much ethylene glycol or hydraulic oil was released.
Eastman had alerted national authorities of a release of “an unknown oil substance” into the South Fork of the Holston River Friday morning, a Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) spokeswoman confirmed.
Kim Schofinski of TDEC said the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Response Center notified TDEC that Eastman had reported the release. In a 1:02 p.m. email, Schofinski said TDEC staff have been communicating with Eastman personnel and were en route to investigate the release, which occurred the same morning as an airborne emission of what Eastman has identified as iodine and methyl iodide.
“The notification (from EPA) indicated that the facility had been shut down as a result while attempts to identify the substance were ongoing and downstream users were notified,” Schofinski said, adding that the Eastman issues represent “an ongoing situation.”
While News Channel 11 made inquiries to various agencies regarding the purple vapors seen above the facility, Sullivan County EMA Director Jim Bean said the agency had been notified of a power outage at Eastman, along with a “release that caused a sheen on the water.”
In January 2021, Eastman released more than 5,000 pounds of ethylene glycol into the river. Earlier this year, around 300,000 gallons of wastewater and hydraulic oil were released into the river due to a steam line failure at the plant.