Hopewell residents concerned they’re not being told about chemical releases

Posted at 8:42 PM, Oct 02, 2012
and last updated 2012-10-02 20:42:50-04

HOPEWELL, Va (WTVR) The release of Nitrogen Oxide at the Honeywell factory on Monday afternoon sent an orange cloud across the City of Hopewell.

Cellphone-snapped pictures quickly spread across Facebook and Twitter, while others phoned loved ones who they thought might be in the path of the cloud.

Now some residents are concerned that no official notification was made by the city, regardless if they say that the cloud was harmless.

Pete Calos, who has more than 30 years in the chemical business said that no matter how small or harmless--or not—that the public needs to be told when something has happened.

With social media spreading the orange cloud pictures across the internet, many believe the city should have at least let them know, the situation was under control.

Others said that it's a double-edged sword and believe that too many alerts would just serve to make the public complacent, at a time when they should be more aware of a dangerous situation.

The city does have a notification system that the public can sign up for by going to the city's web page, but the CodeRED Alert system wasn't used Monday or during a release that happened Sept. 29.

Many said they were surprised to learn there was another chemical release by a different company, just a few days before and said that's a reason many are concerned, they aren't being told about how many releases are taking place.

The chemical release on Saturday, Sept. 29, was also airborne like Monday’s release, and fire officials said neither posed a threat to the public.

But some longtime residents argued that if you can see such a large cloud passing over head, it should be common sense for the city to at least acknowledge that something has happened.