Neodesha receives KDHE approval for a temporary alternate water source

The fire at the Airosol chemical plant in Neodosha, Kan. continued to burn on Nov. 23, 2016. (Photo: KSN/Dylan Dietz)

NEODESHA, Kan. (KSNW) -UPDATE: The City of Neodesha has received approval from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to recharge its water system using an alternate source of water. This temporary alternate water source will be utilized by the City until the City’s primary source of water, the Fall River, can be verified as contamination-free by KDHE labs. Additional steps are being planned to continuously recharge the alternate water source with treatable water.

(Novermber 24, 2016) As the fire at the Airosol Company chemical plant in Neodesha is being allowed to burn out, it’s been learned the company will retain 13 or its 40 employees for now. The move to lay off 27 workers follows the fire Tuesday morning that sent three people to hospitals, one of them with critical injuries.

There’s still smoke in the air around the plant as fire officials in the southeast Kansas town say the fire is fully contained, allowing the remaining flames burn themselves out.

In spite of a chemical smell in the air, health officials who’ve been testing the air quality there say it’s safe to breathe.

The big concern, though, is water.

Citizens in the area have been told not to drink water from city taps, forcing some businesses and restaurants to close in the downtown area. Chemicals from the plant and run-off from fighting the fire have reached the Verdigris River. Residents have been asked to go to city hall to get bottled water.

City officials sent water samples to be tested and Monday afternoon they learned there were still chemicals in river water.

City Commissioner Devin Johnson says they are hoping to work with surrounding rural communities to have water brought in to fill their water towers.

“The community needs to know we are working around  the clock, literally, to come up with the best solution to get water back as soon as possible,” said City Commissioner Devin Johnson.

He says they are hoping by the first of next week to have Neodesha at least on a boil-water status.

Governor Brownback held a press conference this morning to pledge support in helping to expedite water testing and help with technical assistance.