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Freedom Industries Files Bankruptcy

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The Board of Directors of Freedom Industries decided during a special meeting Jan. 17 to file a voluntary petition for bankruptcy protection.

Freedom Industries is the company responsible for the leak of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, a coal cleaning chemical that leaked into the Elk River Jan. 9 causing a "do not use" order for some 300,000 people in parts of nine Southern West Virginia counties who are customers of West Virginia American Water.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said the filing does not change anything from his perspective, in terms of a federal investigation.

The petition explains that Freedom Industries is in the business of producing specialty chemicals for the mining, steel and cement industries. Its assets are listed as between $1 million and $10 million.

The petition goes on to describe the Jan. 9 "incident," explaining that "facts surrounding the incident are subject to pending investigation by Freedom and various regulatory and other governmental authorities."

"It is presently hypothesized that a local water line break adjacent to the Charleston Facility may have or contributed to the ground beneath a storage tank at the Charleston Facility to freeze in the extraordinary frigid temperatures in the days immediately preceding the Incident," the filing reads. "The debtor and investigative authorities have taken note of the hole in the affected storage tank that appears to have come from an object piercing upwards through the base of the affected storage tank.

"Investigations by multiple agencies are ongoing with full cooperation by the debtor."

The filing states that the company has at least 200 creditors, and its top creditors are owed $3.66 million. The list of the company's 20 largest creditors includes D Car LLC of Evansville, Ind. listed as having a $561,518.75 claim against Freedom Industries, FloMin Coal Inc., an Atlanta company listed with a $648,221.70 claim against Freedom along with Eastman Chemical Co., a Philadelphia company with a claim total of $127,474.83 according to the filing and Archer Daniels Midland of Duluth, Ga. listed with a $428,768.12 claim against Freedom.

Gary Southern, president of Freedom Industries, signed the filing. The corporate ownership statement lists Chemstream Holdings Inc. as a corporation that directly or indirectly owns equity interests in Freedom Industries.