ByAaron Styles

Apr 4, 2014

God bless America.

God bless America.

God bless America. It appears that the only real tradition in our corporate world is “profit at all costs … profit”. If hearing me rant again is not your flavor for the day, or if I appear to be somewhat miffed, click away. This is another of those “give me a break” stories.

Cast your minds back in time a little ways to January 9th. Another peaceful morning in West Virginia starts. Residents slowly awakening to another day of work and play. The coffee pot is gurgling, the bacon on the stovetop is sizzling, and it is just another normal day in the heartland.

At 8:30 am, things did start to change, the water for the coffee machine seemed a little different. It appeared as though the good folks at the city water department had already made the coffee and piped it to the residents as a good morning surprise. Sadly though, it wasn’t the city piping java, it was Freedom Industries piping toxins. 7,500 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, (which is used in coal processing) had leaked out of one of their tanks into the Elk River and ended up in people’s breakfast … nice.

This is not a new story; we’ve all heard of it, we all saw the news the news footage and commentary even here on Earth911, but this next part you may not know. Just a week after the spill, Freedom Industries declared bankruptcy. Boy, did they get their money’s worth from their legal team.

While families and employees were filling out the unemployment paperwork and getting doctor’s appointments, these guys were filing motions in court to protect their assets from what would be an onslaught of lawsuits. So much for caring, and so much for accountability. I guess it’s hard to get corporations to change their ways when the lawyers and the courts a week later make sure they get to keep the Mercedes and the boat, while the residents get to eat their water for breakfast.

Gary Southern, President Freedom Industries

Gary Southern, President Freedom Industries

But it just keeps getting better. Here is a little known fact: Did you know that nine days before the spill was “detected” a very quiet little four-way merger occurred? Freedom Industries merged with Chemstream Holdings Inc. exactly 9 days before the leak was detected. Then 9 days after that, they filed for bankruptcy. Okay, what is with the nine days thing? Is this part of the Da Vinci code? I digress. On top of all that, the President of Freedom Industries requested his 6 figure salary be paid while they worked through the bankruptcy. Let’s talk about American greed; looks to me like they are getting a golden handshake and a “get out of hell free card”. In a moment of justice, The Associated Press reported on Monday, (3/31/2014) that’s not going to happen due to stiff opposition from the folks in W.VA and a few creditors looking to get paid. Good job you guys. In fact it looks like even the legal fees won’t be paid.

Now before you all ask what the point of this story is, it’s to let you know that while you were worried about what happened to flight 370, and while you were distracted by Russia moving into the Ukraine, these guys were sitting back having a little court protected fun while you looked the other way. Look back … and do something about it, and take notice of what can happen when you don’t get distracted and become involved. People can make a difference if we all work together to make the price too high for this type of sloppy and negligent corporate behavior.

For more info:

By Aaron Styles

A provocateur, and writer for more than 25 years, Aaron has simplified and humanized the complicated areas of politics, the environment and human interest issues. Skeptical by nature and anonymous by requirement, Aaron enjoys nothing more than getting the conversation started.