CSB’s Final Report on Freedom Industries Chemical Release

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Charleston, WV – A leak originating from a storage tank at Freedom Industries in 2014, contaminated the local water supply leaving hundreds of thousands of West Virginia residents without clean drinking water.

The CSB’s final report into the massive release of chemicals into this valley’s primary source of drinking water concludes that Freedom Industries failed to inspect or repair corroding tanks, and that as hazardous chemicals flowed into the Elk River, the water company and local authorities were unable to effectively communicate the looming risks to hundreds of thousands of affected residents, who were left without clean water for drinking, cooking and bathing.

On the morning of January 9, 2014, an estimated 10,000 gallons of Crude Methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM), mixed with propylene glycol phenyl ethers (PPH Stripped), were released into the Elk River when a 46,000-gallon storage tank located at the Freedom Industries site in Charleston, WV, failed. As the chemical entered the river, it flowed towards West Virginia American Water’s intake, which was located approximately 1.5 miles downstream from the Freedom site.

The CSB’s investigation found that no comprehensive aboveground storage tank law existed in West Virginia at the time of the release, and while there were regulations covering industrial facilities that required Freedom to have secondary containment, Freedom ultimately failed to maintain adequate pollution controls and secondary containment as required.

The CSB report recommends that the American Water Works Association, which represents thousands of water companies, communicate the findings from the CSB report to its members and to emphasize the importance of emergency planning and coordination with other entities to ensure timely notification of the public during contamination emergencies.