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The Nation

The fuel tank collapse that caused the contamination of drinking water in three states stemmed from a dime-size flaw in the tank’s nearly 50-year-old steel wall, Ashland Oil Inc. said. The 4-million-gallon storage tank near Pittsburgh, Pa., collapsed Jan. 2 as it was being filled with 3.8 million gallons of oil, spilling more than 700,000 gallons into the Monongahela River and then the Ohio River. A combination of factors aggravated the impact of the flaw and caused the wall of the tank to split in less than a second, according to Ray Mesloh, head of a team from Battelle Memorial Institute, an independent research firm from Columbus, Ohio.


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