2 ex-Freedom employees to make pleas on pollution charges in West Virginia chemical spill case

IndustriesAssociated Press

Two former employees at Freedom Industries are due in federal court for plea hearings on pollution charges stemming from a chemical spill in Charleston, West Virginia.

Separate hearings are set Wednesday for ex-plant manager Michael Burdette and environmental consultant Robert Reynolds. Both are charged with federal Clean Water Act violations and are expected to plead guilty.

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Former owners Charles Herzing and William Tis pleaded guilty Monday to causing an unlawful discharge of a coal-cleaning agent into the Elk River. The January 2014 spill contaminated drinking water for 300,000 residents for days.

Another plea hearing is scheduled next Monday for the company itself. Ex-Freedom owner Dennis Farrell and former President Gary Southern face trial later this year on charges related to the spill. In addition, Southern faces charges related to Freedom's bankruptcy.