CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Representatives of the company responsible for the Jan. 9 chemical spill that contaminated the water supply of 300,000 West Virginia residents will be in federal bankruptcy court Friday.

Attorneys for Freedom Industries will ask a federal bankruptcy judge for permission to hire experts and environmental consultants to help assess what happened in the chemical leak. Freedom officials said they want to make the moves before evidence from the  incident is removed or destroyed. The company is under orders from the state Department of Environmental Protection to begin removing the tanks on the site by March 15.

Additionally Freedom seeks to hire more attorneys for its legal team and a financial advisory.

More than 10,000 gallons of the chemical MCHM and a lower amount of PPH which was blended with the main chemical leaked into the Elk River at the company’s Etowha River Terminal. Hours after the spill the contaminated water entered the West Virginia American Water treatment facility in Charleston.

Subsequently the tainted water caused 300,000 people to be unable to use their water for more than a week. Although the all-clear to use the water has been given, many still remain unwilling to trust test results that show non-detect levels of the contaminant in the water system.

Soon after the spill, Freedom Industries filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. As part of its bankruptcy filing, the company was approved to borrow up to $4 million. So far the company has indicated spending about $1 million on the cleanup—most of that on attorney fees and transportation to remove the remaining chemical off-site.

The hearing is set for 10 a.m. Friday at the Robert C. Byrd Federal Courthouse in Charleston.

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  • Dad bob

    Facts will surface. It will be the water company to be shown truly negligent. An act of God created (ice shives thru the bottom of the tank) an unfortunate event that could have been prevented if not for an intentional dirrelection of duty by the water company allowing the smell (actual contamination not measurable by scientific certainty ) to permeate the community of water users. Sad 70 employees will lose their jobs because of irrational, no common sense by our government officials and true lack of understanding of chemistry by those sensationalizing this event. The governor, attorney general, Dep, and Wolf B should be ashamed of themselves.

  • Mason County Contrarian

    An excellent read in Ken Ward's blog "Coal Tattoo" regarding ERT's predicament with the claim that the water is safe for human consumption while, at the same time, seeking Federal help to determine if that statement was indeed true.

    I guess science and "Boss Hogg Good Ol' Boys" politics mix about as well as MCHM and water.

    • Mason County Contrarian

      Charleston Gazette, please. That omission my error.

  • Aaron

    Who in the world would have loaned this company $4 million dollars?

    Perhaps the answer lies in how easily Freedom agreed to waive their due process and agree to dismantle the site.

    • The bookman

      I saw that too. Could there be a bigger bullseye painted anywhere than what Freedom currently sports on its back? Something not adding up. You stated at one point that a water break may have led to the rupture, and Jason412 commented about that as well. I've not seen that anywhere. Is that rumor or fact?

      • Jason412


        Metronews reported the water main break story, but I believe it was only mentioned once briefly and never again. Take that for what you will. I'll take a quick glance and see if I can find the article.

        • Jason412

          Here is a mention in the Gazette

          "CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Nearly a week after Freedom Industries last spoke publicly, the company broke its silence Thursday evening, proposing a theory that its "Crude MCHM" chemical leak was caused, in part, by a broken water pipe uphill from its property, according to a source close to the company who demanded anonymity.

          The source said water from the broken pipe flowed under the tank farm, then froze during the recent cold temperatures and expanded, puncturing the tank from below."
          www. wvgazette .com/News/201401160158 (take spaces out)

          " Freedom suggested that perhaps American Water had helped cause the leak in the first place when a water main break contributed to damage to a storage tank."
          www. businessweek .com/articles/2014-01-21/new-accusations-against-freedom-industries-in-west-virginia-spill

          I thought I read it on Metronews, maybe I was wrong or it's buried in the mass of articles.

          • Aaron

            It's already played out. Freedom has agreed to waive their due process and right to appeal and to dismantle the tank farm.

            At the time, I said it smelled like a 'sweet' deal. With bankruptcy allowing the company to borrow $4 million, I'm positive that it's a very 'sweet' deal for the owners.

            That's the ONLY for them to not be screaming at the top of their lungs that it was the water companies fault, it was the water companies fault, it was the water companies fault...

            I don't think there's any question that Freedom was given an out in exchange for their cooperation and in the end, tax payers will be the ones getting >>>>>> with no kiss.

          • The bookman

            Thanks Jason! I don't usually read the gazette. Gonna be interesting to see how this plays out.