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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

VIDEO: Freedom Industries Files For Bankruptcy

W. VA chemical spill company files bankruptcy to avoid lawsuit payouts. Freedom Industries has filed a petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. And that’s not even the worst of it. The company that is trying to pass the cost of a chemical spill onto the taxpayers, has not paid its own taxes in years.

 More than 30 lawsuits have already been filed against Freedom Industries, following a chemical spill in West Virginia.

As of Jan. 15th, more than 30 lawsuits had been filed against Freedom Industries, the company that tainted water in nine WV counties. The huge chemical spill has slowly made its way down the Elk River, further risking water supplies in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. Health and safety officials still warn pregnant women not to drink the water, 8 days after the spill took place.

How is Freedom Industries dealing with the chemical spill it caused? The company filed for bankruptcy on January 16, 2014. This was less than a week after the toxic spill threw the lives of hundreds of thousands of people into chaos. Under US bankruptcy laws, the company could  reorganize and continue to do business, after passing the burden of the cost of this chemical spill onto the public.

The company has not paid taxes since the year 2000.

But wait, it gets worse. Freedom Industries has not paid taxes since the year 2000. The company currently owes the IRS more than $2.4 million in unpaid tax debt. Freedom Industries expects that taxpayer money will pay for the chemical spill it caused, yet it’s been years since this company has paid a dime into the tax system.

 Early estimates show losses related to the chemical spill will be at least a half billion dollars.

The amount of environmental and economic damage caused by Freedom Industries massive chemical spill has yet to be fully seen. Yet Bloomberg reports that some estimates predict the losses to total at least a half billion dollars. Those are estimates that only look at lost revenue, wages, and other economic harm, that was done in WV.

Let’s be clear about this, the cost to the public is going to be huge.

Both WV Gov. Tomblin and President Obama declared a state of emergency in WV, allowing for state and federal dollars to flow freely to the area.  The WV National Guard, WV Bureau of Public Health, WV DEP, FEMA, the US Corps of Engineers and the US Department of Homeland Security are just a few of the agencies that have been called upon to spend tax dollars, to help deal with the chemical spill.

Authorities are still looking into the cause of the toxic chemical spill. There are also questions surfacing about whether the company was operating in the parameters of the law. US Attorney Booth Goodwin announced a formal investigation of the spill, with the possibility of criminal charges, if negligence is found. The US Chemical Safety and Hazards Investigation Board and the Occupational Safety and Health Information Board are also investigating the chemical spill.

If the judge approves the bankruptcy, this company would be free to ‘reorganize’ and continue operating.

Even as all of these government agencies expend taxpayer dollars and the number of lawsuits against the company continue to rise, Freedom Industries declared that their outstanding debt is just $3.5 million. If the judge approves the bankruptcy, the company could walk away from all of its financial obligations. Worse, Freedom Industries would be free to ‘reorganize’ its finances, and free to repeat this scenario all over again.

Chris Hayes from MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes says Freedom Industries is “like a shooting star that leaves a trail of toxic waste and chemicals,” and breaks it down for us.