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Chemical company whose spill shut down W.Va. water supply finds itself under deep scrutiny

  • 4b1fa930f90cd901480f6a7067000d75.jpg

    CORRECTS STATE TO W.VA. INSTEAD OF VA. - Workers inspect an area outside a retaining wall around storage tanks where a chemical leaked into the Elk River at Freedom Industries storage facility in Charleston, W.Va., Monday, Jan. 13, 2014. The ban on tap water for parts of West Virginia was lifted on Monday, ending a crisis for a fraction of the 300,000 people who were told not to drink, wash or cook with water after the chemical spill tainted the water supply. Gov. Earl Tomblin made the announcement at a news conference, five days after people were told to use the water only to flush their toilets. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) (The Associated Press)

  • c427ad63f90bd901480f6a7067002d4a.jpg

    CORRECTS STATE TO W.VA. INSTEAD OF VA. - Work continues around storage tanks at Freedom Industries storage facility in Charleston, W.Va., Monday, Jan. 13, 2014. The ban on tap water for parts of West Virginia was lifted on Monday, ending a crisis for a fraction of the 300,000 people who were told not to drink, wash or cook with water after a chemical spill tainted the water supply. Gov. Earl Tomblin made the announcement at a news conference, five days after people were told to use the water only to flush their toilets. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) (The Associated Press)

  • 03d570b4f90cd901480f6a70670033c0.jpg

    CORRECTS STATE TO W.VA. INSTEAD OF VA. - Workers inspect an area outside a retaining wall around storage tanks at Freedom Industries storage facility in Charleston, W.Va., Monday, Jan. 13, 2014. The ban on tap water for parts of West Virginia was lifted on Monday, ending a crisis for a fraction of the 300,000 people who were told not to drink, wash or cook with water after a chemical spill tainted the water supply. Gov. Earl Tomblin made the announcement at a news conference, five days after people were told to use the water only to flush their toilets. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) (The Associated Press)

  • 8c7daa1cf90bd901480f6a7067009d13.jpg

    CORRECTS STATE TO W.VA. INSTEAD OF VA. - A worker moves a drilling machine around storage tanks at Freedom Industries storage facility in Charleston, W.Va., Monday, Jan. 13, 2014. The ban on tap water for parts of West Virginia was lifted on Monday, ending a crisis for a fraction of the 300,000 people who were told not to drink, wash or cook with water after a chemical spill tainted the water supply. Gov. Earl Tomblin made the announcement at a news conference, five days after people were told to use the water only to flush their toilets. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) (The Associated Press)

  • 83b36da5f90bd901480f6a7067003948.jpg

    CORRECTS STATE TO W.VA. INSTEAD OF VA. - Work continues around a storage tank with the chemical designation MCHM, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, the chemical that leaked into the Elk River, at Freedom Industries storage facility in Charleston, W.Va., Monday, Jan. 13, 2014. The ban on tap water for parts of West Virginia was lifted on Monday, ending a crisis for a fraction of the 300,000 people who were told not to drink, wash or cook with water after a chemical spill tainted the water supply. Gov. Earl Tomblin made the announcement at a news conference, five days after people were told to use the water only to flush their toilets. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) (The Associated Press)

The consequences from a chemical spill that tainted drinking water for some 300,000 people in West Virginia mark the biggest crisis yet for the company responsible for the leak.

The U.S. attorney his investigating the spill, and numerous businesses have sued Freedom Industries because they were forced to close and lost money until the water was safe again.

Company officials have repeatedly declined to comment. But court and financial documents provide a window into the little-known and lightly regulated firm.

Freedom Industries traces its start back to 1992, when it was founded by Carl Kennedy II and Dennis Farrell. However, Kennedy later pleaded guilty to tax fraud. Prosecutors accused Kennedy of withholding more than $1 million from employees' paychecks between 2000 and 2003 — and diverting some of that money for his personal use.

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