Chemical Company Charged For Poisoning West Virginia's Water

Four owners and operators of Freedom Industries, the chemical company that dumped 10,000 gallons of toxic chemicals into a West Virginia river last year, were indicted by a grand jury on Wednesday. They were indicted on charges of negligent discharge of a pollutant, negligent discharge of a refuse matter, and violating an environmental permit. The violations carry a maximum penalty of three years in prison.

In addition to the environmental violations, Freedom Industries' president, Gary L. Southern, was charged with wire fraud, making false statements under oath, and bankruptcy fraud. Also indicted were the company's environmental consultant and the manager of the chemical tank farm.

In January, Freedom Industries, which operated a chemical tank farm on the Elk River, released 10,000 gallons of 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol into the Kanawha Valley's water treatment intake near Charleston. According to Gawker, the spill affected 300,000 residents of West Virginia and West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a statewide disaster. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had to dispatch FEMA to clean-up the spill and the National Guard was mobilized to distribute bottled water.

As a result of the disaster, health officials estimated around a fifth of households suffered symptoms that sound very similar to poisoning--skin irritation, drowsiness, prolonged vomiting, and breathing difficulties. Clean water is a human right and clearly someone needs to be held responsible.
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