Posted by Neno Duplan
On 9 January 2014, a tank at Freedom Industries in Charleston leaked coal-cleaning chemicals into the Elk River, about a mile and a half upstream from a water treatment plant. Tap water from faucets started smelling like licorice. It also had a blue-green color to it. Drinking the water was banned for several days.
In bankruptcy court hearings and meetings, former Freedom Industries President repeatedly said he had little to do with the company before it was sold a few weeks prior to the January chemical spill. But an FBI affidavit said the President had overseen day-to-day operations at the chemical storage company, hired employees and executed contracts for several years, according to a complaint unsealed Monday. He was charged in a chemical spill that discharged MCHM chemical into the Elk River that left 300,000 people without drinking water and lied about his role with the company to protect his personal wealth, according to an FBI affidavit recently released.
Investigators discovered holes in tanks, shoddy last-resort containment walls and other deficiencies.
The President, who has previously denied wrongdoing, faces charges of bankruptcy fraud, wire fraud and lying under oath. If convicted of all the charges, he faces up to 30 years in prison. The executive appeared unsympathetic to much of an entire valley of people lacking clean water.