W.Va. Company Behind Water Leak Files for Bankruptcy

Freedom Industries makes move amid flood of lawsuits
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2014 4:28 PM CST
A storage tank with the chemical designation MCHM, the chemical that leaked into the Elk River, is shown at Freedom Industries storage facility in Charleston, W.Va.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
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(Newser) – Being implicated in the contamination of a state's water supply is not so good for business. Freedom Industries, the company whose tank leaked a chemical into the Elk River in West Virginia, filed for bankruptcy today, reports the Charleston Gazette. The move for Chapter 11 protection comes amid of flood of lawsuits from businesses and individuals who had to go without municipal water for several days. Most of the 300,000 affected residents have water again.

The company listed its liabilities at a maximum of $10 million, which might be wishful thinking. "I think they underestimated the liabilities just a tad," an attorney who filed a class-action suit against the company deadpans to the Wall Street Journal. In its filing, the company shed a little more light on what it thinks happened: A water line broke during "extraordinarily frigid temperatures," and that made the ground freeze beneath a storage tank. The tank then got punctured by an unknown object, reports AP. "Authorities have taken note of a hole in the affected storage tank that appears to have come from an object piercing upward," the filing reads. (Read more West Virginia stories.)

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