Tuesday, September 13, 2016

CSB to Hold Meeting on Freedom Spill Incident Report

Today the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) published a meeting notice in the Federal Register (81 FR 62863) concerning a meeting to be held in Charleston, WV on September 28th, 2016. At this public meeting the staff will present findings and recommendations from the CSB investigation of the January 2014 leak from a storage tank at Freedom Industries that contaminated the local water supply.

With all due respect to the problems that the residents of Charleston and the communities downstream of the spill had to deal with because of municipal water system issues related to this spill, the chemical involved in the spill (Crude Cyclohexanedimenthanol – CHDM) is a relatively innocuous industrial chemical. This spill would not have received the national attention that it did without the resulting problems with the municipal water supply and relatively limited medical effects (but very important to the individuals concerned, I fully understand) resulting from contact with the contaminated drinking water.

While the storage and containment issues are certainly expected to be discussed at this meeting, it will be interesting to see what the report has to say about the detection and treatment issues that arose at the local water treatment facility just downstream from the leak. The spill was the result of criminal (adjudicated not opinion) negligence, but the real problems were the post spill drinking water problems.

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