Nation & World News

Chemical Company In West Virginia Water Crisis Files For Bankruptcy

By Bill Chappell on January 17th, 2014

Freedom Industries, the West Virginia company that’s been blamed for a chemical spill that left around 300,000 people without water for days, has filed for bankruptcy. The chemical used in cleaning coal leaked into the Elk River and into the public water system.

It was only around midday Friday that West Virginia American Water online “water safety map” all blue, as Mark reported for The Two-Way earlier today. But the all-clear came with some caveats, as some residents were told not to risk drinking water from the tap. And the suggestion that pregnant women in the affected areas drink only bottled water still stands.

According to the bankruptcy documents filed this afternoon and passed along to us by NPR’s Hansi Lo Wang, Freedom Industries lists both assets and liabilities worth between $1 million and $10 million, with between 200 and 999 estimated creditors. The document was signed by Freedom’s president, Gary Southern.

As The Washington Post reports, a new owner took control of Freedom Industries only one week before the spill was reported. The newspaper identifies the owner as Pennsylvania coal executive Cliff Forrest.

The company has been harshly criticized by government officials in West Virginia, including Charleston’s Mayor Danny Jones, who told Melissa Block on Tuesday’s All Things Considered that Freedom Industries is run by “a small of group of renegades.”

“I’m not even sure they cared what happened to the public,” he said.

The incident has prompted Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., to introduce legislation that would require the responsible companies to pay for cleaning up chemical spills and other pollution, as well as “provide more funding for states and agencies tasked with cleanup,” reports West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

“Rockefeller co-sponsored the bills with Senator Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii,” the broadcaster reports, “who is responding to a 233,000-gallon molasses spill that occurred in Honolulu last year.”

As Mark reported earlier today, the chemical that leaked into the water supply is called methylcyclohexene methanol, or MCHM, and it “can cause severe burning in the throat, vomiting and skin blistering.”

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

This entry was posted in News from NPR. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

 

More Stories in News from NPR

Elephant Featured In Film ‘Alexander’ Killed By Thai Poachers

The 50-year-old Asian elephant, named Phlai Khlao, was apparently poisoned before his tusks were hacked off. Thai authorities are questioning a suspect who is a former elephant handler.


Luis Suarez will wear the number 9 for Barcelona.

Liverpool Unloads ‘The Biter,’ Sending Suarez To Barca For $128 Million

Luis Suarez, who was punished for biting an opponent during the World Cup, is moving to Barcelona. The team reached terms with Liverpool in a transfer widely reported at more than $128 million.


German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier at a news conference at the Foreign Ministry in Berlin, Germany, on Friday. Steinmeier will meet Secretary of State John Kerry this weekend to discuss allegations of U.S. spying.

Germany Calls For ‘Honest Foundation’ In Relations With U.S.

The remarks by Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier follow fresh allegations of U.S. spying on Germany and Berlin’s request that the top U.S. intelligence official in the country leave.


Ukrainian soldiers man a checkpoint about 30 miles from Donetsk, Thursday. Government officials said Friday that a rocket attack had killed as many as 30 soldiers.

Dozens Of Ukraine’s Troops Reportedly Killed By Militants

Separatists reportedly used a rocket-launching system to shell government troops Friday. The deadly strike comes after days of steady gains against the rebels by Ukrainian forces.


Israeli fire fighters extinguish vehicles destroyed by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, at a gas station in the city of Ashdod in southern Israel Friday.

Israel And Hamas Keep Up Attacks, Ignoring Calls For Peace

In Israel, a rocket hits a gas station, setting it on fire and causing several injuries; in Gaza, the health ministry says 100 Palestinians have been killed.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments