Target: Natalie Tennant, West Virginia Secretary of State
Goal: Reject the bankruptcy filing of Freedom Industries, the company responsible for a terrible chemical spill
What would you do if the drinking water coming out of your tap looked more like motor oil than potable water? If a company’s negligence caused a chemical spill that affected you and hundreds of thousands of others in your state? What would you do if the company responsible was then allowed to file bankruptcy, and avoid accountability for the disaster? Sadly, this is the situation faced by residents of West Virginia.
In January, 2014 Freedom Industries’ chemical storage facility in Charleston, West Virginia leaked a dangerous compound used in coal processing into the nearby river. Just downstream lies one of the largest water treatment and distribution centers in the state, where contamination made tap water undrinkable for more than 300,000 people. Numerous lawsuits have been filed against Freedom Industries for its negligence, but the company’s recent attempt to file bankruptcy could legally let them off the hook.
According to the Charleston Gazette, Freedom Industries has a track record of unpaid taxes dating as far back as 2000. The containment field at its Charleston site, meant to prevent the spread of chemical spills, was found in terrible condition. Clearly, the company does not have the best interests of the American public in mind. By filing for bankruptcy, there is real concern that the company will abandon commitments to clean up the mess. Call on the West Virginia Secretary of State to hold the company accountable, and to refuse its bankruptcy filing.
Dear Secretary of State Tennant,
The citizens of West Virginia are still reeling from the Elk River chemical spill that has affected drinking water in several counties. Concerns remain about the water’s safety, and there is no known way to ensure removal of the dangerous chemical. Investigators found that Freedom Industries, the company responsible, did little to prevent the spill. A containment wall full of cracks and holes, a single cinder block, and a bag of absorbent powder were the only things used to try and stop the leak. The containment wall at the site where chemicals have been transferred is in similarly bad repair.
Freedom Industries owes millions in back taxes to the federal government, and now the company has filed for bankruptcy, putting on hold the numerous lawsuits filed against them for their negligence in the spill. Such actions are not uncommon for companies following environmental disasters, and too often bankruptcy allows them to preserve their assets and continue operations despite causing serious harm to communities.
Please, don’t let Freedom Industries off the hook. Its continuing operation represents a real danger to West Virginians across the state. Demand full accountability for the Elk River chemical spill, and deny the company’s bankruptcy filing.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Staff Sgt. De-Juan Haley via Wikimedia