Freedom Industries Inc., facing multiple lawsuits and state and federal investigations after the Jan. 9 spill, filed a Chapter 11 petition with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of West Virginia.
Company president Gary Southern signed the paperwork, which lists the company's assets and liabilities as a range — both between $1 million and $10 million. It says the company has at least 200 creditors and owes its top 20 creditors $3.66 million.
The water was tainted after a chemical used to clean coal leaked from a storage tank and then a containment area at a facility owned by Freedom Industries. The water ran into the Elk River, contaminating the state's largest water system.
The bankruptcy document says the leaky storage tank appears to have been pierced through its base by some sort of object. It also says a current theory for the hole is that a local water line that broke near the Charleston plant could have made the ground beneath the storage tank freeze in the cold days before the spill.
No doubt the company will get a nice Chapter 11 deal at taxpayer expense, while taxpayers also pay for the cleanup, and the company will emerge from bankruptcy with immunity to all those lawsuits and will be able to get back in the business of awesome coal chemicals by say, this time next year.
Business as usual, because America, where corporations are protected at all costs. People, on the other hand, well, not so much.