Rubbertown Air Toxics Risk Assessment

Rubbertown Locator map

Rubbertown is the nickname given to an industrial area along the Ohio River at the southwest corner of the pre-merger City of Louisville. It gets its name from tire and synthetic rubber plants that were built there during World War II near existing refineries. Factories in Rubbertown now produce a wide variety of chemicals and materials, employ hundreds of people and bring millions of dollars into the local economy. See a map of Rubbertown.

For many years, residents of western Louisville and nearby areas in Jefferson County had complained of health problems they attributed to air pollutant emissions from the many industrial facilities in Rubbertown. Citizen organizations such as REACT (Rubbertown Emergency Action) have formed to advocate for more assessment and control of air emissions. The West Jefferson County Community Task Force (WJCCTF) was established by the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health & Wellness (then the Jefferson County Department of Health) to identify problems in the area.

Between April 2000 and April 2001, the APCD, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Kentucky Division for Air Quality, and the University of Louisville worked with the WJCCTF to conduct an air monitoring study of a large number of toxic air pollutants at twelve sites in western Louisville and Jefferson County. The purpose of the study was to determine if residents of the area were being exposed to airborne concentrations of toxic air pollutants that may pose unacceptable risks to human health. Since the end of that one-year study, the university and WJCCTF have continued to sample volatile organic compounds at some of the sites.

In 2002, EPA Region 4 independently performed an analysis of other data to develop a county-by-county Air Toxics Relative Risk Screening Analysis, which indicated that Jefferson County had the highest risk of the Southeast region.

The West Louisville Air Toxics Study Risk Management Plan, Part 1: Process and Framework was issued in April 2003. The Risk Management Plan establishes the process to identify the sources of the chemicals which are above target risk levels, the options which will be evaluated for the chemicals to lower their ambient concentrations and the elements of a risk communication plan and process to best inform the community on relevant issues and activities.

Sciences International, Inc. conducted a risk assessment of the air monitoring data collected in the study. The final West Louisville Air Toxics Risk Assessment Report, completed in October 2003, details the methods and findings of this assessment. Following the release of the report, the APCD began the process of developing a comprehensive regulatory package to address Louisville's toxic air pollution.

In September 2004, the APCD proposed the Strategic Toxic Air Reduction (STAR) Program for public review and comment. The STAR Program was ratified by the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control Board in June 2005.

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