CSB Investigation Finds No Record of Inspections on Freedom Industries Chemical Storage Tanks

The company is responsible for a leak from one of its tanks. The leak contaminated Charleston, W.Va., residents' drinking water in January 2014.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board reported that it has found no record of a formal, industry-approved inspection performed on any of the chemical storage tanks at Freedom Industries prior to the massive leak on Jan. 9, 2014, that contaminated the drinking water of up to 300,000 residents of nine West Virginia counties. It appears that informal inspections may have occurred, but investors have found a lack of appropriate engineering inspections with the prescribed frequency and rigor of inspections, according to CSB's announcement.

The agency commissioned an inspection of tank 396 and similar tanks at Freedom Industries, scanning the tank interior and the surrounding topography of the river bank. The investigation found that two small holes ranging in size from about 0.4 inch to 0.75 inch in the bottom of the 48,000-gallon tank 396 were caused by corrosion, likely resulting from water leaking through holes in the roof and settling on the tank floor. The inspection also found a similar hole penetrating the bottom of tank 397, containing the same chemical at the facility, which is located in Charleston, W.Va. The increasing corrosion in these tanks went unnoticed until the bottom of 396 was breached and up to an estimated 10,000 gallons of the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM), mixed with propylene glycol phenyl ethers, or PPH, made their way through the underlying mixture of soil and gravel under the facility and into the Elk River.

Investigator Lucy Tyler, in a statement, said, "While our investigation is still under way, it has become clear that Freedom Industries did not have a rigorous inspection program for these chemical storage tanks sited close by the Elk River and just upstream from the facility supplying water to hundreds of thousands of people."

Download Center

  • Monitoring and Reporting on Air Emissions for Regulators and the Real World

    When it comes to managing compliance and regulatory issues surrounding air emissions, there are no easy jobs. With interviews from practitioners from American Electric Power, Red Cedar Gathering, Trinity Consultants, and Cority, this eBook provides practical advice to advance your air emissions monitoring and reporting programs.

  • What Every EHS Professional Should Know About ESG

    Join experts from Arcadis and Cority on April 27th to learn the most common ESG reporting frameworks and how technology can help you improve reporting efficiency, identify areas for improvement, and create defensible audit trails.

  • Green Quadrant EHS Software 2021

    Read the new report by independent analyst firm, Verdantix, to get an unbiased comparison of the 22 most prominent EHS software vendors in the industry.

  • RFP Template for Waste Management Software

    Learn the essential questions to ask when evaluating waste management software solutions with this free, ready-to-use RFP template

  • 5 Keys to Best-in-Class Chemical Management

    Running a safe chemical program is challenging and complex: from knowing what's on-site to proper handling and disposal - all while navigating regulatory changes. Learn the best ways to mitigate chemical risk, get the most value out of your data, and gain buy-in for a chemical management solution.

Featured Webinar