Year after W.Va. chemical spill tainted drinking water for thousands, executives face charges

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CHARLESTON, West Virginia — Almost a year after a chemical spill fouled a West Virginia river and tainted drinking water for more than 300,000 residents, four former executives from Freedom Industries and two other employees are facing federal criminal charges.

They include Dennis P. Farrell, who authorities say told state inspectors looking into a strange smell enveloping West Virginia's capital city that he knew nothing about a leak. He seemed to brush off cause for concern over the odor in January.

Freedom's coal-cleaning chemicals infiltrated a water treatment plant a mile and a half downstream. After the blue-green-tinged mixture poured through people's taps, everyday life in the Kanawha Valley halted for up to 10 days amid a do-not-use order on tap water. Public confidence in the water remained shaken long afterward.

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