Freedom Industries pleads guilty to pollution charges
Chemical spill contaminates West Virginia’s Elk River.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A now-bankrupt chemical company has pleaded guilty to three pollution charges related to last year’s spill that contaminated a West Virginia river.
Mark Welch, chief restructuring officer of Freedom Industries, entered the plea on behalf of the company March 23 in federal court in Charleston.
Freedom faces a maximum $900,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled June 29.
The spill of thousands of gallons of a coal-cleaning agent into the Elk River prompted a tap water ban for 300,000 Charleston-area residents for days.
Two former Freedom owners and two lower-level employees pleaded guilty to a pollution charge last week and will be sentenced in June.
Another former Freedom owner, Dennis Farrell, and former president Gary Southern face trial later this year on spill-related charges. In addition, Southern faces charges related to Freedom’s bankruptcy.