Ashton Marra Published

The Five Things You Need to Know About the CSB's Preliminary Investigation at Freedom Industries


Investigators from the U. S. Chemical Safety Board presented preliminary findings Wednesday from their investigation into the January chemical leak at Freedom Industries in Charleston.

Lead Investigator Johnnie Banks explained the process they’ve gone through collecting evidence and information and said they will soon begin to analyze that data to put together a final report and recommendations.

During the presentation, however, Banks detailed some of his team’s initial findings.

  1. Inspections have confirmed the source of the leak was tank 396, as previously thought. The tank had two holes in the bottom, both of which were smaller than an inch in diameter.
  2. The team found a hole in a second tank on site which had also been storing the chemical crude MCHM. Banks said the tanks had a “growing corrosion problem,” which was apparent from the holes and also pitting in the metal.
  3. The corrosion is thought to be caused by holes in the tops of the tanks that were letting water in. The water would then pool in the bottom, Banks said, causing the holes to form from the inside out.
  4. Investigators could find no records of site inspections, making it unclear how often or how rigorous previous examinations of the tanks may have been.
  5. Because of the amount of corrosion in the tanks, investigators believe the tanks may have started leaking before the reported January 9 spill.

Snaks said his team will analyze soil on site to try to determine when the leak began, but said that narrowing down a date was only a possibility.
No date has been set for the final report’s release.