US safety board to investigate chemical spill into West Virginia river

An investigative team from the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is deploying to the scene of a massive spill into the Elk River in Charleston, West Virginia, the board said on Monday.

The spill reportedly involved 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, a chemical used in processing coal.

According to local authorities, the leak originated from a storage tank at Freedom Industries. The leak of unknown quantity has left hundreds of thousands of West Virginia residents without clean drinking water.

“This incident continues to impact the people of West Virginia," said CSB chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso. "Our goal is to find out what happened to allow a leak of such magnitude to occur and to ensure that the proper safeguards are in place to prevent a similar incident from occurring.”

The investigative team will be led by supervisory investigator Johnnie Banks. The team arrived in West Virginia on Monday morning.

The CSB is an independent US federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The agency's board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. 

CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.

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