Freedom, DEP Reach $2.5 Mil Deal on Spill Site Cleanup

The company behind a massive chemical spill last year has reached a $2.5 million deal with West Virginia environmental regulators for cleaning up its contaminated site

State regulators have reached a deal with bankrupt Freedom Industries that will set aside $2.5 million for the cleanup of the site of the January 2014 chemical spill that contaminated drinking water supplies for hundreds of thousands of people in Charleston and surrounding communities.

Lawyers for Freedom disclosed the deal Tuesday in a filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, in a move that they hope paves the way for eventual approval of a liquidation plan that would resolve Freedom’s bankruptcy proceeding.

Under the proposal, Chemstream Holdings — the company that bought Freedom about a month before the Elk River spill — would contribute an additional $1.1 million that would be specifically earmarked for the site cleanup.

The deal would put that $1.1 million, along with another $1.4 million from Freedom, into an “ERT Remediation Fund” to accomplish a cleanup under the state Department of Environmental Protection’s “voluntary” remediation program.

In April, Freedom had proposed putting just $150,000 in funding toward remaining cleanup work at the site, a move that drew harsh criticism from DEP officials and was rejected by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Ronald Pearson.

The new settlement, signed by DEP General Counsel Kristin Boggs, says that the agency agreed that Freedom would have no obligation to perform additional remediation beyond the payments into the fund as spelled out by the settlement. DEP also agrees under the plan not to sue Chemstream for anything related to the spill or the site cleanup.

Source: WVGazette

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