Punishing Those Liable for Leak

By the time lawyers involved in the Freedom Industries bankruptcy are finished, the company’s assets may have vanished.

Freedom Industries is behind the disastrous chemical leak at Charleston earlier this year. After a hazardous chemical leaked into the Elk River from one of the firm’s tanks, water service to about 300,000 people had to be shut off for a time.

Soon after the leak, Freedom Industries executives sought bankruptcy protection for the company. Last week, lawyers and consultants involved in the proceeding asked a bankruptcy court to approve $1.8 million in payments to them.

Though Freedom’s operations have been suspended, it continues to make some money – $1.8 million is expected this month – by selling off equipment and other assets.

Obviously, anyone considering a lawsuit against Freedom Industries, in an attempt to recover damages from the spill, will be lucky to collect much.

But it is important that company officials who bear blame for the leak not be permitted to simply wash their hands of Freedom Industries and walk away unscathed.

If criminal acts were committed, the responsible company officials should be fined severely and possibly sentenced to prison terms.

Three hundred thousand West Virginians suffered from the leak. Those responsible for it should be made to suffer, too.