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New Albany shelter-in-place order lifted after a chemical release

A screenshot shows an overhead shot of buildings that emitted a yellowish gas in New Albany, Indiana.
Screenshot via WLKY
A chemical at Blue Grass Chemical Specialties caused a yellow plume of gas to appear in the area surrounding the plant. Emergency officials have since lifted a shelter-in-place order and said they don't have concerns about serious health issues.

Emergency officials have lifted a shelter-in-place order for New Albany and reopened Interstate 265 after a chemical release at Blue Grass Chemical Specialties facility on Industrial Boulevard.

Floyd County Emergency Management Agency Kent Barrow previously said hydrogen peroxide was the released substance. He later confirmed it was nitrogen oxide.

According to Barrow, the release was caused by an issue in the plant’s cleaning process, and a tank overflowed, releasing the gas.

“We believe that there are no health issues,” Barrow said Tuesday morning. “You’d have to be standing over [the plume] to have major effects.”

Barrow said the nitrogen oxide should disperse into the air and that the only cleanup needed would be inside the plant.

Nitrogen oxides are a family of chemicals released in the burning of fuel for cars, buildings and factories. At certain amounts nitrogen oxides can irritate eyes and lungs and cause coughing, tiredness and nausea, according to the CDC.

When the gas release first occurred, residents were told to shelter in place, as were students at Indiana University Southeast’s campus.

Both of those orders have been lifted.

The EPA includes Blue Grass Chemical Specialties on a list of facilities that use toxic chemicals in their operations.

According to data from the EPA, a little more than 4,000 people reside in a 1-mile radius of the chemical plant. Demographic data shows a majority of those residents are white and 46% of households report an income greater than $75,000.

This story has been updated.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.