Environment

Rubbertown

rubbertownThe Louisville area’s largest source of industrial emissions

Including …
• American Synthetic Rubber Co.
• ATOFINA Chemicals Inc.
• Borden Chemical, Inc
• Carbide Industries LLC
• E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company
• DuPont Dow Elastomers L.L.C.
• Noveon, Inc
• OxyVinyls, LP
• PolyOne
• Rohm and Haas Co.
• Zeon Chemicals LP

The largest source of industrial emissions in the Jefferson County area is a petrochemical complex located in West Louisville known as Rubbertown.

The complex is composed of 11 large chemical plants that account for approximately 20% of the state’s total industry releases of air toxics and 42% of all industrial air emissions in Jefferson County. Also, the county’s largest wastewater facilityMorris-Forman Water Treatment Plant, is located in close proximity to the Rubbertown area.

The Rubbertown complex began with the construction of an oil refinery by Standard Oil of Kentucky in 1918. In the 1930’s, it was joined by two additional oil refineries – Aetna Oil and Louisville Refinery. These three refineries produced gasoline, kerosene, fuel, oil, naphtha, and petroleum coke. All three refineries have since been torn down and replaced with petroleum terminals. The extent of soil and groundwater contamination from these plants is unknown. From 1924 to 1959, Bond Brothers, the largest railroad tie manufacturer in the U.S., was located in the Rubbertown area as well, with an operation that pressure-treated 3 million railroad ties a year.

rubbertown2With the outbreak of World War II, the complex expanded significantly in size and in activity. In 1941, the U.S. Office of War Production contracted with National Carbide to construct a calcium carbide/acetylene gas plant, and with the B.F. Goodrich Corporation to build an adjacent plant. That same year, E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont) was contracted to build a Neoprene synthetic rubber plant. This plant converted acetylene gas to vinyl acetylene, which was then chlorinated to produce chloroprene, the monomer used to produce Neoprene. In 1945, Union Carbide built a plant in the complex to manufacture 1,3-butadiene from grain alcohol that was piped to Rubbertown from distilleries in Louisville. That same year, a consortium of five tire companies known as National Synthetic Rubber opened a plant to make styrene-butadiene rubber for tires needed in the war effort.

After the war, the federal government continued to operate the styrene-butadiene rubber plant until 1955, when it was auctioned off to a consortium of 20 rubber companies. That same year, DuPont built a Freon production unit next to its Neoprene plant. In 1960, DuPont built an additional unit to manufacture vinyl fluoride, the primary raw material used to manufacture the polymer product Tedlar.

rubbertown3The Union Carbide plant was sold in 1961 to Rohm and Haas Co. to produce acrylic plastic and related products. In 1979, Borden Chemical Inc. opened a new facility to produce formaldehyde, urea-formaldehyde resins, phenolic resins, and adhesives. As a result of divisions, several facilities have the following new owners: Atofina Chemicals, DuPont Dow Elastomers, Noveon, Oxy Vinyls, PolyOne and Zeon Chemicals.

Products made in Rubbertown are used in thousands of different products, including acrylic paint; adhesives for labels and stickers; disposable diapers; ink; caulk, floor polish; tissue paper; plastic car bumpers; plastic bottles; plastic toys, PVC and CPVC pipe and fittings, vinyl house siding, window glazing, wallpaper; carpet padding, carpet, upholstery, marine coatings, bridge paint, deck paint, anti-rust spray paints, covering for cable TV wires, electrical wire insulation and coverings; wire covering for cords on hair dryers and other appliances, weather stripping for window and doors, flexible plumbing fittings, automotive taillight lenses; medical devices such as premature infant incubators and intravenous devices, drive belts, gloves, wet suits, residential hot water plumbing, fire sprinkler systems and other industrial applications where high temperature or chemical resistance is required; irrigation systems for golf courses, vehicles hoses, belts, and gaskets; O-rings, brake pads and shoes, automotive sealing applications, buried electrical cable insulation, shoe soles; military boots; clean room equipment for the computer industry interior walls of passenger aircraft, and fuel binders for space shuttle rocket boosters.

The WJCCTF meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 6:00 p.m., at the NIA Center.

 

Map

Nia Center on 2900 West Broadway st.
Louisville, KY 40211
Tel: 502-548-9402 | Email: wjcctf.lou@gmail.com

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