CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A four-member investigative team with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board intends to find out why and how a 35,000 gallon storage tank leaked 7,500 gallons of crude MCHM, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol in the Elk River in Charleston causing a water emergency in parts of nine West Virginia counties.

CSB lead investigator Johnnie Banks told MetroNews Wednesday evening the team has been on the Freedom Industries site since Monday taking a look at the tank in question.

File photo

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board has been on the Freedom Industries site this week taking a look at the storage tank in question. A section will be testing at a lab in the months to come.

“We’ve been able to photo document the scene. We have a contractor that’s taken photos of where we suspect the failure occurred but we want to put that failure area under forensic analysis,” Banks said.

(See WVAWC’s zone lifting map here)

The team has also met with Freedom Industries President Gary Southern and received the names of key employees whom the CSB wants to interview. Banks said Southern has been cooperating.

“The president has been very accommodating. He’s being pulled in four or five different directions, but we’ve not had any issues with him in terms of accessibility or him working with us,” Banks said.

(See latest water testing results here)

At some point the CSB hopes to remove a section of the tank and take it to a central lab for testing.

“We hope to put it under close scrutiny and examine the area where we suspect the failure occurred. We want to put it under electro microscope and determine the failure mode,” Banks said.

There are already a number of lawsuits filed in connection with the spill and Banks said the plaintiffs would also be part of the testing process.

“They will observe the testing,” he said.

The goal of the CSB investigation is not only to find out how the leak began but why it began according to Banks. He said another area of inquiry will be the question of regulation of above ground storage facilities.

Banks said his agency has never investigated a spill involving crude MCHM, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, but he doesn’t anticipate that being a problem. He promised a broad investigation.

“That would be accurate,” he said.

Banks added it’s important for the CSB team to be on site in the days after the incident to get the freshest information possible.

“We need access to the employees while the information is still fresh in their minds and they haven’t compared notes with one another, their colleagues, and kind of shifted their reality,” he said.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board also investigated the Sissonville natural gas line explosion in Dec. 2012, the Bayer Crop Science plant explosion in Institute in August 2008 and the Jan. 2007 Little General Store propane gas explosion.

 

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Comments

  • Edmund

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  • rudolph caparros

    CHLORINE GAS TRANSPORTATION SAFETY
    First Responders ask federal administrations to consider adding secondary containment to rail tank cars used to transport chlorine gas, providing lifesaving safety to First Responders and the public they serve. See First Responders Comments at PETITION C KIT.

  • David Kennedy

    Why is nobody asking the EPA about this?
    The ball is in their court.
    When the 'Sequester Hit the country, out of the 150,000 EPA personnel, over 135,000 were deemed non-essential.
    Shouldn't they be inspecting 75 year old chemical tanks at the same time they extort this state and shut down the coal mines.
    Charleston is a time bomb ticking away...I remember Bhopal, India...how many thousands were killed there, and we had a similar plant here in C'town?
    Let's lay a lot of this at the feet of the Federal Government.
    Let them bear the cost and take it out of the 2014 budget crap shoot.
    Our legislature is in session and time is of the essence... their job this year is to create jobs, period.
    Give this football to Obama... that's my steam, Hoppy!

  • mook

    Hello !!! tanks are how old? No regs, what does one expect. Holes in the tank, just like the regs. Op's no regs.

  • HOSA

    ANY CHEMICAL INTRODUCED TO THE MARKET SHOULD FIRST BE PROVEN SAFE, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND. LET’S FACE IT, THE CHEMICAL INDUSTRY IS IN WEST VIRGINIA BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS, SAFTY REGULATIONS AND WEST VIRGINIANS BEING BRAIWASHED BY THE CONSERVATIVE BILLIONAIRES KOCH BROTHERS WHO SPENT OVER 400 MILLION DOLLORS ON POLITICAL AD CAMPAINS TARGETING DEMOCRATS IN ORDER TO INFLUENCE POLITICIANS TO RE-WRITE BUSINESS REGULATIONS. I HOPE THAT FREEMDOM INDUSTRIES IS THE MAJOR CORPERATE COMPANY AND ARE NOT JUST PRETENDING TO BE A LOCAL WEST VIRGINIA COMPANY RUN BY KOCH INDUSTRIES. IT’ S SOMETHING THAT ON THE VERY SAME DAY THAT THE CHEMICAL SPILL OCCURRED THAT THE REPUBLICAN CONTROLLED HOUSE PASSED A BILL GUTTING HAZARDOUS WASTE REGULATIONS. I HOPE POLITICIANS WERE NOT PAID OFF TO LOOK THE OTHER WAY FOR CAMPAIGN CASH. I WONDER HOW DID OUR POLITICIANS VOTE ON THESE REGULATIONS ANYWAY. I HOPE JUSTICE IS SERVED.

  • cutty77

    I like this. This Board like about 95% of Boards woke up. We don't need anymore New laws in WV,because we can't enfore the ones we have. Its the same Old BS all the Time. The Sky is Falling,The Sky is Falling. The Defintion of Insanity ,is doing the same thing over and over again,and expecting different ressults.

  • Mountaineeer1

    Regulations; they are coming. Hopefully there won't be too many unintended consequences. The regulations need to be focused on BOTH the companies that have above ground storage tanks, as well as requirements and FUNDING for the DEP to have the resources to properly inspect every company in WV that has chemical storage facilities on an Annual basis- especially those located in close proximity to a water system used for public consumption. Hopefully the politicians in Charleston will not be influenced by their big donor's money and enact "watered down" regulations (no pun intended) that will do little more than boost the politician's egos and gain a few more votes.

  • Una-Bummer

    Funny how the State demands I let them certify my vehicle once a year safe to use on the public road yet they won't go to the trouble of certifying something "safe' like this POISION CONTAINER next to our drinking water supply...

    • WVULINK

      How many times must we say it? Crude MCHM is not classified as a poison or a toxic chemical.

      • Uncle SAM

        Who is we? certainly not Webster's..

      • cutty77

        A very Smart man told me last week,that there are more side effects in Virga than this product. Go Figure.

        • WVULINK

          He might be right. I'm not saying the ban was wrong. Once they knew about it they have a both a regulated and moral obligation to take notify the public and take action. It is a chemical and it can have effects on human. mainly irritation. So the ban was necessary, but more for legal reasons. Unless you drink pure concentrations of it, it isn't going to kill you. It not known to cause cancer or have any long-term effects. Heck even California doesn't consider it to be a possible cancer-causing chemical and they identify almost everything we use on a dialy basis as a potential cancer causing agent.

          • cutty77

            HE COMPARED IT,TO ALCOHOL,RUBBING I MEAN.LOL

      • Shadow

        It doesn't make Headlines! So they turn off their hearing aid.

  • James

    Where and how are the frackers storing their chemicals? Many of tose kinds of companies have fascilities hear our rivers.

  • Dirty Dan

    Its an accident. Pure and simple. Most companies put off maintaining infrastructure. You don't make money from upkeep. It sucks, but its the truth. Anyone who has worked gas or coal in this state knows this.

    • Larry

      It's true Dan, it would be akin to having a nice home that is paid for, and in seemingly good condition and you say, "Just to be safe and avoid any problems I think I better tear this house down and replace it".

      • Aaron

        If you buy a house that's 80 years old, do you inspect it to find any potential problems?

        • Larry

          Sure, but I said "seemingly", even if you have a home inspected there can still be problems that arise. There is no guarantee that an "inspection" of this tank would have prevented this.

          • Larry

            Possibly.

          • WVWorker

            An inspection of the containment area and correcting the obvious problems would most likely have prevented it from getting into the driking water supply.

  • Harpers Ferry

    Never mind this latest incident. Forget about Sago. West Virginia can ONLY survive on COAL. Keep on with your unimportant lives you SHEEP!!!

    • George Douglas

      America's largest computer center is in West Virginia a short drive from where you live, but I guess you never get out of your basement.

      • Stewart Henderson

        The largest computer center is in Utah not WV:

        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utah_Data_Center

  • George Douglas

    All these government bureaucrats are jumping in now and claiming they are going to prevent this from happening again or that they are going to get to the bottom of what caused it. Where in the @#$% were they BEFORE this happened? The federal and state governments allowed this toxic chemical to be stored in huge amounts right about the water intake to our drinking water plant. They allowed it to be stored in old tanks installed 70 or 80 years ago and they were not inspected. The water company and the state knew about this leak at least 8 hours before the public was alerted not to use the water. I called 911 about the odor just after 11 AM myself and they said then that they had already had several reports. The PSC is also at fault for letting a foreign company buy our water company and allowing them to charge the 2nd highest rates in this nation and concentrate the whole water production in a single plant instead of three or four distributed ones. You can't believe a single thing these people say. The guy in charge or the state's homeland security is the same idiot that paid $24,000,000 for routers when we really needed around $3,500,000 worth of routers. He still has his job. He gave a no bid contract for 9 communication towers at a ridiculous price. Gianato still has his job. Manchin didn't fire him and Tomblin hasn't fired him. He made this state a laughing stock in the technology community across the nation and still hasn't answered for it. Tomblin first "tweeted" an alert about the spill, instead of going to the news media immediately. People will still vote for that failed man too, as they always do in this state. All the state politicians rave about how good it is to get any kind of chemical plant to come into the state and the WV Dept of Environment Pollution turns a blind eye to help them poison the state's air, water, and soil. When is the last time you saw a state official trying to get a clean industry to come to this state? Can you imagine what a commercial fishery the Kanawha would be if chemical plants hadn't permanently poisoned the river bed with the blessing of state officials?

    • Shadow

      While inferred, you didn't mention that a through investigation of the upstream potential dangers was obviously not done prior to putting in the intake nor did it occur to them to investigate the storage area/material when notified by Freedom. There is plenty of blame to go around and it all shouldn't be put on Freedom. The good thing is that the CSB is including all parties in their investigation as opposed to what the Mining Authority did on the Big Branch Mine Disaster.

      • Uncle SAM

        Shadow, are they really including "all parties" in their investigation? Is the Kanawha County Government included, as well.

  • Dirty Employee

    It's been 7 days now without a shower and it's getting hard to buy or pick-up enough water to try to keep clean. I'm miserable. But yet employers, private and state, expect you at work everyday and won't even give any time off at all to deal with this crisis. At least mine will not. Unlike many, I have no family near by to mooch a shower. I regret ever moving to this town.

    • Joan50

      Hang in there my friend. I can understand your frustration. Look on the positive side. You have your health, and your away from home family. We are your family and proud to have you here. If I knew who you were, I'd invite you over for a nice hot shower and hot meal. It'll be over soon

  • Duane

    Really? Wonder why the 50 year old metal tank failed! Maybe because the state and federal government doesn't regulate or inspect these types of facilities. It is just as much their fault as it is Freefoms.

    • Mike

      Exactly right! No million dollar analysis is needed to understand what happened. No one outside of Freedom themselves ever looked at it, checked it, or was ever concerned about it. End of story. Now, will anything change?

  • Frank / Moundsville

    By the time all the lawsuits hit court, Freedom Industries will declare bankruptcy and the plaintiffs will get nothing.