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FBI says Freedom executives “long aware” of chemical containment problems

Charleston Daily Mail file photo by Tom Hindman FBI agents gather in Charleston in 2014 to collect information for the case against Freedom Industries.
Charleston Daily Mail file photo by Tom Hindman
FBI agents gather in Charleston in 2014 to collect information for the case against Freedom Industries.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Federal court documents released just days before the one-year anniversary of the Freedom Industries chemical spill, along with a new report issued by Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, reveal information showing the company knew for more than a decade about problems with spill containment dikes and, specifically, the tank that leaked.

Freedom was “long aware” of inadequacies with its containment dike near the tank that leaked 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or MCHM, into the Elk River on Jan. 9, 2014, according to an FBI affidavit made public in U.S. District Court on Wednesday.

“For many years, and at all relevant times, Freedom operated the Etowah Facility in a negligent manner,” FBI special agent James Lafferty wrote in a document originally filed on Sept. 12.

Lafferty was seeking a warrant to obtain computer and financial records, along with a laptop, from Freedom as part of a federal investigation. U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl Eifert in Huntington approved the warrant.

Lafferty noted in the affidavit that Freedom, which was aware of the hazardous nature of MCHM, had known about problems with its spill-containment dikes since the company’s purchase of the Elk River facility in 2001…

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