Water service resumes in Nowata after Kansas plant explosion

Zachary BarrettNov 26, 2016

- A chemical plant in Neodesha that was the site of a unsafe explosion Wednesday had a history of violating federal environmental rules and paid a $10,000 fine in 2009 for using a banned substance in one of its products.

Steve Larson, a spokesman for the Kansas Department of Emergency Management, said that as of Friday afternoon, water customers in Independence and the nearby town of Sycamore were given an all-clear notice that they could resume using their public water.

The river creates Oologah Lake. However, no problems are being reported here.

The explosion and subsequent fire quickly depleted the water stored in the city's elevated water tank as firefighters fought the blaze, Johnson said.

The Environmental Protection Agency began testing water samples for ethylene glycol, a compound used to produce polyester fibers and antifreeze, but the results came back negative.

Communities from Nowata to Independence had to shut the water off to keep the chemical out of their water systems.

Despite Thursday's findings of samples taken Wednesday, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Erin Hatfield said officials will continue to test more samples from the river. The Oklahoma National Guard also provided two tanker trucks of water, Lynn said.

Water service was discontinued shortly after midnight in the city of Nowata, a city of about 3,700 people about 20 miles south of the Kansas state line and 150 miles northeast of Oklahoma City, said Stacy Guffey, a dispatcher at the Nowata County Sheriff's Office.

A national retail chain and a tribal government donated bottled water in preparation for a loss of service.

The water is safe to drink and use.

After the water was shut off, Nowata officials declared a state of emergency on Thursday morning to receive assistance from the state and the Red Cross.

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