CHARLESTON, W.Va. — An investigative team with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board plans to update the board and the community Wednesday in Charleston on its preliminary findings into the Jan. 9 Freedom Industries chemical leak on the Elk River.
CSB lead investigator Johnnie Banks and his team arrived in Charleston less than two days after thousands of gallons of crude MCHM leaked into the river and made its way into West Virginia American Water Company’s Kanawha Valley plant causing a water emergency in parts of nine counties.
Banks plans to provide the update at the Four Points Sheraton in downtown Charleston at noon Wednesday.
“The obvious question is how this came to be,” Banks said in a prepared statement released by the CSB Tuesday. “What was the mechanism of failure for this tank? But on a larger scale, how do you get a situation where you have a chemical this closes to the intake of a water system?”
The CSB removed part of the tank in question from the site several months ago and moved it to another location for further investigation.
Following staff presentations the board will hear comments from the public.
“All staff presentations are preliminary and are intended solely to allow the Board to consider in a public forum the issues and factors involved in this case,” the CSB said Tuesday. “No factual analyses, conclusions, or findings presented by staff should be considered final until approved by a vote of the Board.”
The CSB will also release its investigative results Wednesday into the 2010 fatal accident at the AL Solutions plant in Hancock County. The blast at the New Cumberland operation claimed the lives of three workers.