Source: Mike Malloy
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What do the Koch brothers have to do with contaminated water? Seems the brothers Koch have their dirty little fingers dipped in every nasty cesspool of our corporatocracy these days, especially where gas and coal are concerned. Now it is revealed that Freedom Industries (love the name), the company that dumped toxic chemicals into the waters of West Virginia, has ties to the infamous billionaire brothers.
In case you missed the non-stop media coverage (sarcasm on), over 300,000 residents of West Virginia have been affected by a massive chemical leak into the Elk River from a tank containing MCHM, a chemical used to "wash" coal. The leaky storage tank had not been inspected since 1991. Restaurants and schools were closed, businesses shuttered, and residents cleared the store shelves of bottled water after being warned not to use their tap water. Ironically, these red-state residents who eschew any form of government intervention in their lives, or in private enterprise, are now pleading for federal disaster assistance and demanding an inquiry into the regulatory practices that allowed this environmental disaster to occur.
But I digress ...
Little is known about Freedom Industries, but their parent company is Georgia-Pacific which is owned by (you're way ahead of me) the Koch Brothers and which produced this toxic coal-washing chemical. Freedom Industries, itself, is only a few weeks old, as Bloomberg News reports...
"Freedom Industries is the product of a merger effective Dec. 31, 2013, that combined Etowah River Terminal, the facility where the leak occurred, Crete Technologies, and Poca Blending, located in nearby Nitro. How the pieces of the newly formed mini-conglomerate fit together merits urgent inquiry, as does the question of whether there's any connection between the corporate mash-up and the fateful opening of a one-inch hole that allowed a noxious chemical to escape."
News is slowly trickling out about some of the corporate officers at Freedom, who are as colorful as the chemicals they spill. According to the Charleston Gazette... "Freedom Industries was founded by a two-time convicted felon [and] benefited from the 2009 federal stimulus."
The Gazette identifies the co-founder as Carl Lemley Kennedy II. The Gazette also states that Kennedy, "In 1987 ... pleaded guilty to selling between 10 and 12 ounces of cocaine in connection with a scandal that toppled then-Charleston Mayor Mike Roark. He eventually got his sentence reduced for his company related felonies by becoming a government informant to entrap cocaine dealers." Further, In 2005, federal prosecutors charged Kennedy with failing to pay $200,000 in corporate taxes.
Current President Gary Southern held a press conference on Friday that was almost as disastrous as the spill itself. As he chugged bottled water for the cameras, he repeatedly stressed how difficult this has been for him, personally, and how hard his team is working to correct the matter.
"At the news conference, Freedom Industries President Gary Southern gave few details about the company, made several statements seemingly in conflict with what government officials have said, and was whisked away by a public relations handler with reporters still shouting questions."
And then there is current Freedom Industries CEO Dennis P. Farrell. Farrell and his girlfriend, media strategist Kathy Stover-Kennedy (presumably no relation the the felonious founder), have caused a bit of a stir with their lavish lifestyle and her oddball Facebook post about the chemical spill.
Stover-Kennedy wants her Facebook friends to know that her boyfriend, Denny, has been receiving frightening and inappropriate feedback about the spill, which was an "ACCIDENT" she types. The poor dear then added that "I'm not asking for anyone's sympathy, but a little empathy wouldn't hurt." She reminded us that no one was hurt by the leakage (ask those 10 people in the hospital about that) and furthermore, "the boys at the plant made and drank coffee this morning! I showered and brushed my teeth and I am just fine!"