Latest News, WV Press InSight Videos

Freedom fined $900,000 for Elk spill, unlikely to pay

Charleston Gazette-Mail file photo by Tom Hindman Freedom Industries was located just outside the Charleston city limits. On Thursday, the now-bankrupt company was hit with a $900,000 criminal fine for the January 2014 Elk River chemical spill.
Charleston Gazette-Mail file photo by Tom Hindman
Freedom Industries was located just outside the Charleston city limits. On Thursday, the now-bankrupt company was hit with a $900,000 criminal fine for the January 2014 Elk River chemical spill.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A federal judge on Thursday hit Freedom Industries with a $900,000 criminal fine for the January 2014 Elk River chemical spill, but acknowledged that the bankrupt company is unlikely to ever pay the penalty.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston said he would make any payment of the fine contingent upon Freedom first satisfying in full all claims filed against it in federal bankruptcy court, but again said he doesn’t think that would ever happen.

“There’s no way the fine will ever be paid,” Johnston said during a hearing held to sentence Freedom for pollution crimes that led to the Jan. 9, 2014, chemical spill that contaminated the drinking water supply for hundreds of thousands of people in the Kanawha Valley and surrounding communities.

The fine was the maximum amount allowed by law under a plea agreement Freedom reached with former U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, who has left the prosecution post to run for governor.

“I’m not generally a fan of symbolic sentencing,” Johnston said, “but if there’s any deterrent value at all, if it’s not going to be paid, I might as well enter the maximum fine …

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter