The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) launched a team Wednesday to investigate the breach of a rail tank-car and subsequent release of 17,000 gallons of chlorine Saturday at a facility in New Martinsville, West Virginia.

Initial information received by the NTSB about the accident characterized the event as a hazardous materials release only. As more information became available the agency learned that the shell of the rail tank-car breached, prompting the dispatch of three investigators to the scene.

NTSB Senior Hazmat Investigator, Paul Stancil has been designated as the Investigator-in-Charge. The on-scene team are experts in hazardous materials and metallurgy. Parties to the investigation are the Axiall Corporation (the tank-car owner) and the Federal Railroad Administration. The NTSB’s team has examined the tank-car, gathered relevant documents and interviewed personnel involved in the loading of the tank-car.

The on-scene phase of the investigation continues and the team’s planned operations include:

• Interviewing plant personnel
• Reviewing tank-car loading procedures;
• Collecting relevant documentation;
• Conducting tank-car damage assessment;
• Identifying materials to be removed for metallurgical examination; and
• Shipping the fractured section of the tank-car to NTSB headquarters in Washington for metallurgical examination.

Updates regarding the NTSB’s investigation will be made as developments warrant.