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Federal Lawsuit Targets Charleston Airport, Blames Runway Extension for January Spill

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A federal lawsuit blames a Charleston airport runway project for the January chemical spill that left 300,000 residents without clean water for days.

The lawsuit says Yeager Airport's completed runway extension never safeguarded against stormwater runoff.

In court papers filed Friday, plaintiffs say the airport let water flow to Freedom Industries, where water eroded a tank's foundation.

They say effects of the project initiated in 2004 "significantly caused or contributed" to chemicals leaking into the Elk River on Jan. 9.

West Virginia's environmental agency says inspectors responding to the spill didn't see obvious signs of water runoff from the hillside above Freedom.

Airport officials say the state approved construction plans and Freedom never complained about runoff.

Defendants also include Freedom executives, the chemical's producer, water company interests and runway contractors.

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