EPA says Kraton release secured

BELPRE – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday afternoon that the release of solvents from a leak last week at Kraton Polymers in Belpre has been secured.

A release from the EPA said outfall from the facility is going through carbon filters and there were no detectable levels of contaminants, “assuring no off-site release.”

The first leak of diethyl ether and cyclohexane, process solvents used to cool equipment, occurred early Thursday morning, after which 538 dead fish, one blue heron and one seagull were recovered, according to the EPA. There have been no subsequent fish or wildlife kills, the agency said.

Kraton responded with booms to recapture the cyclohexane, and aeration is being used to treat the diethyl ether.

A second leak happened on Friday, but that one was contained within the plant. Both leaks were attributed to recent cold weather.

Testing was conducted on both Davis Creek near the retention pond where the discharge first went and the Ohio River, into which the creek feeds. According to the EPA, only one of 27 river samples showed a detectable level of one of the chemicals, diethyl ether, at an amount of 72 parts per billion.

Mark Johnson, a toxicologist with the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, said that level is not high enough to pose a health risk to humans.

Kraton spokesman Mike White on Monday reiterated that there is no impact on the City of Belpre, which draws its water supply from wells.

“The primary focus, under the guidance of the U.S. EPA, is to minimize the impact to wildlife in Davis Creek and the Ohio River,” he said.

The EPA release said raw water plant sampling at the Little Hocking Water Association plant was initiated Monday; nothing of concern was detected.

There had been no detections at the Belleville lock and dam for 48 hours, and that testing was suspended.

, the EPA said.