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Eastman sued in connection with W.Va. chemical spill

January 15th, 2014 8:58 pm by News Sentinel Staff

Eastman sued in connection with W.Va. chemical spill

Times-News file photo.

Legal fallout from the accidental chemical spill that contaminated the water supply for 300,000 West Virginians has landed at the doorstep of Eastman Chemical.

Eastman is among the defendants named in a suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Charleston, W.Va., according to published reports.

The publicly traded company makes 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or MCHM, the chemical that leaked into the Elk River in Charleston last week.

MCHM is used in coal processing.

The spill came from a storage tank at Freedom Industries, which is also a defendant in the lawsuit.

Eastman spokeswoman Maranda Demuth told Bloomberg that the suit is without merit as it pertains to the company and that neither the company’s studies nor any others it was aware of show any evidence that MCHM is a carcinogen. 

Freedom Industries moved the chemicals to another facility following the spill, but West Virginia inspectors have cited Freedom Industries for five violations at the second facility, and they say the company might have to relocate its materials again because of a lack of a secondary containment plan.

So far Eastman’s stock price has not suffered. Shares closed Wednesday up 52 cents at $79.81.

Eastman, which produces chemicals, plastics and fibers used in a wide variety of products, has 14,000 employees worldwide and customers in more than 100 countries. The company had revenues of $9.1 billion in 2012 and is expected to release its 2013 financial report on Jan. 30.

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