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W.Va. chemical company files for bankruptcy: Freedom Industries blames freeze

The chemical company responsible for the contamination of drinking water in West Virginia has filed for bankruptcy. NBC News reports on Jan. 17 that Freedom Industries has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and has submitted the proper paperwork. One of the company’s tanks spilled 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM) into the Elk River.

West Virginia chemical spill
Photo by Tom Hindman/Getty Images

The contaminated drinking water affected 300,000 people in West Virginia, and several lawsuits against Freedom Industries have already started. The company’s quick move to declare bankruptcy is being viewed as an attempt to protect itself from these lawsuits.

Although West Virginia officials have lifted the ban on drinking or using the contaminated tap water for most of the affected residents, many people still feel uncomfortable using the water. In addition, pregnant women continue to be banned from drinking the water, and some experts recommend that children also avoid the water.

MCHM is used in coal cleaning, but medical experts state the chemical’s impact on the human body is not known. Unfortunately, there have not been enough studies to determine how water contaminated with 4-methylcyclohexane methanol will affect health. The CDC is relying on a study from 1990 to set a safe limit on the amount of MCHM that should appear in water.

Freedom Industries has shared that a broken water line let the ground freeze, and this eventually led to a tank leak. It is not discussing its bankruptcy filing with the media at this time, but the move has angered many residents in West Virginia.

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