Chemical Plant in Indiana Releases Orange Cloud of Nitrogen Oxide

Reports about an “orange plume” in the air near the Blue Grass Chemical Specialties plant in New Albany came in on Tuesday a.m.

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chemical release
A chemical release from a plant in New Albany, IN, on Tuesday is being investigated.Image courtesy of Lucas Kapla/Unsplash

A chemical plant in Indiana released an orangish cloud of nitrogen oxide Tuesday, which led to closed roads nearby and shelter-in-place orders until the cloud dissipated.

Reports of an orange plume in the air near the Blue Grass Chemical Specialities plant led authorities to respond about 10:15 a.m., said Floyd County Emergency Management Agency spokesman Kent Barrow.

County officials worked with State Police and the New Albany Police Department to close part of Interstate-265, while shelter-in-place orders were issued for an elementary school and several businesses as a precaution, Barrow said.

Just a couple hours later, Mayor Jeff Gahan said the plume had dissipated, affected roads had reopened, and the shelter-in-place orders were lifted.

Gahan said in a post on the city’s Facebook page that the plant’s chemical engineer had determined “that the smoke was a form of nitrogen oxide that is not harmful at these quantities.”

Blue Grass Chemical Specialties CEO Paul McCauley said the release occurred after a reactor acted at a faster than normal rate and was unable to send nitrogen oxides through scrubber filters.

He said that nobody in the plant was hospitalized.

McCauley said plant workers are investigating how much of the chemical was released, and that the company has a permit with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to filter the nitrogen oxides before being released.

Blue Grass Chemical Specialties LLC is a chemical manufacturer founded in 1969. The plant specializes in aqueous inorganic metal salt solutions, precipitated products, and toll manufacturing.

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Powder Bulk Solids Staff

Established in 1983, Powder & Bulk Solids (PBS) serves industries that process, handle, and package dry particulate matter, including the food, chemical, and pharmaceutical markets.

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