Charleston Water System Chemical Spill | WV Toxic Exposure Lawsuits

A major chemical spill into West Virginia’s Elk River on Jan. 8, 2014, posed a threat of toxic exposure to more than 300,000 residents and businesses in nine West Virginia counties. The chemical spill from a tank at Freedom Industries in Charleston was reported to have an immediate effect on Kanawha Valley customers of West Virginia American Water, which has a treatment plant near the site of the spill.

The chemical that spilled into the water supply, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol or MCHM, is harmful if swallowed. It also causes eye and skin irritation, and could be harmful if inhaled. MCHM is a foaming agent used in the coal-preparation process. Residents and businesses were ordered to not use tap water, but not before many people had already drunk the contaminated water.

If you have become ill or have suffered other significant harm as a result of the Elk River chemical spill, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. The Underwood Law Offices can provide a free initial consultation about your experience with the chemical spill and your legal options.

Call Underwood Law Offices now or submit an online questionnaire to set up a meeting today.

Compensation for WV Chemical Spill Losses

Corporations in West Virginia have a legal obligation to conduct their business in a reasonably safe way. Companies that deal with toxic substances – including chemical companies such as Freedom Industries – must comply with federal and state regulations for safeguarding potentially harmful materials they handle.

Published reports about the Charleston chemical spill have made much of West Virginia’s “lax” regulations governing coal and chemical companies. Regardless of regulations, chemical companies may be held liable when their negligence harms individuals, businesses or private property.

A personal injury lawsuit based on injury or disease caused by exposure to a toxin or chemical in the environment – sometimes called a “toxic tort” – may seek compensation for:

  • Medical expenses.
  • Lost income.
  • Loss of property value due to contamination.
  • Cleanup costs.
  • Business interruption.
  • Pain and suffering. 

The Freedom Industries chemical spill into the Elk River resulted in orders to not use tap water for drinking, cooking, bathing or laundry. Boiling the contaminated water was not sufficient. In addition to individual homes, the order affected thousands of businesses, with serious impact on restaurants, motels, hotels and others in the service industry.

The state of emergency ordered by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin included West Virginia homes and businesses in the Kanawha Valley counties of:

  • Kanawha
  • Cabell
  • Boone
  • Putnam
  • Lincoln
  • Logan
  • Clay
  • Roane
  • Jackson 

A week after the spill, West Virginia emergency rooms had treated more than 150 patients for symptoms related to chemical exposure, according to published reports. Authorities were unable to estimate the area’s economic losses. 

Contact a Charleston Chemical Spill Attorney

If you or your business has suffered a significant injury or financial loss because of the Freedom Industries chemical spill into the Elk River near Charleston, West Virginia, the environmental litigation attorneys of Underwood Law Offices can help you. You and your family or business may be eligible for compensation to reimburse you for medical bills, lost income – including from interruption of business – and other losses.

Call Underwood Law Offices or submit an online contact form for a free initial consultation. If we can help you, we will work on a contingency fee basis, which means we will get paid for our services only after we recover money for you.


  • AP – W.Va. Gov Declares Emergency After Chemical Spill
  • AP – More in W.Va. Cleared to Use Water After Spill
  • New York Times – Critics Say Spill Highlights Lax West Virginia Regulations
  • Allvoices – West Virginia businesses reopen without tap water following chemical spill