Freedom Industries, Company Behind W.Va. Spill, Files for Bankruptcy

The company filed under Chapter 11 on Friday afternoon, court officials said.

Residents and businesses in West Virginia have filed nearly two dozen lawsuits against Freedom Industries, the company that owns the storage container responsible for leaking chemicals into the Elk River on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. State officials issued a ban on water consumption for the next five days.
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Freedom Industries Inc., the company responsible for a chemical spill that poisoned drinking water for more than 300,000 people in West Virginia, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Friday afternoon.

The company submitted a petition at 1:25 p.m. to the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, said Matthew J. Hayes, clerk of the court.

The petition lists estimated assets ranging from $1 million to $10 million, and estimated liabilities also ranging from $1 million to $10 million, Hayes said.

[READ: West Virginia Chemical Spill Company Slapped With Violations]

Chapter 11 allows a company to continue operating as it reorganizes.

Freedom Industries did not immediately return a call for comment Friday afternoon. The filing was first reported by The Charleston Gazette

The company has been hit with at least 22 lawsuits from residents and business owners since last Thursday, when state officials discovered that one of the company's storage containers near the Elk River had ruptured, leaking at least 7,500 gallons of a coal-processing agent into the waterway about a mile north of a water treatment plant.

[ALSO: As Water Flows Again in W.Va., Lawsuits Begin to Pour In]

The spill forced officials to institute a water ban for nine counties, barring residents and businesses from using the water for anything other than fighting fires or flushing toilets.

The ban was lifted on Monday after chemical levels fell below what state and federal officials deemed a safe threshold, but the state Department of Environmental Protection has since advised pregnant women to still avoid drinking tap water "out of an abundance of caution" until chemical levels in the water dip entirely to zero.

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