Bankruptcy

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear two stories of challenges and resilience in Appalachia. We also bring you a report from the Ohio Valley ReSource on coal company American Resources Corporation.

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A West Virginia hospital has filed for bankruptcy protection.

Williamson Memorial Hospital made the Chapter 11 filing Monday in federal bankruptcy court.

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A coal waste plant at risk of shutting down in West Virginia is hoping to stay open through state proceedings.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the Grant Town Power Plant's owner, American Bituminous Power Partners, has teetered on the verge of bankruptcy, according to company filings.

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Alpha Natural Resources has announced the sales of a coal mining complex and a natural gas operation in West Virginia.

The company, which emerged from bankruptcy reorganization last year, says its Green Valley mining assets in Nicholas and Greenbrier counties are being sold to Quinwood Coal Co.

Flood, Elkview
Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  A last-minute bankruptcy filing has halted the sale of an Elkview shopping center that has been marooned and shuttered since a crucial access bridge was washed away by flooding last summer.

A group was forming on the steps of the Kanawha County Courthouse on Tuesday to participate in an auction for the Crossings Mall property, but the scheduled sale was called off after the mall owners filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Peabody Energy
Jeff Roberson / AP Photo

  Peabody Energy, the nation's largest coal miner, is seeking bankruptcy protection.

The filing comes less than three months after another from Arch Coal, the country's second-largest miner, which followed bankruptcy filings from Alpha Natural Resources.

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Alpha Natural Resources says it has received a $500 million offer from existing lenders for the potential sale of the bankrupt coal producer's core assets.

Bristol, Virginia-based Alpha announced the offer in a filing Monday in federal bankruptcy court in Richmond, Virginia.

Alpha Natural Resources

A bankruptcy judge has approved a deal resolving a reclamation bond dispute between coal operator Alpha Natural Resources and West Virginia regulators.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin R. Huennekens' order says the agreement is fair and equitable.

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Coal operator Alpha Natural Resources plans to sell 23 mine properties in five states as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy case.

Bristol, Virginia-based Alpha says in a notice filed this week in bankruptcy court that Jan. 20 is the deadline to submit qualified bids or to file any objections to the sale. The filing expands a sale list of 16 properties submitted in October.

Patriot Coal

On the same day Patriot Coal announced WARN notices had been sent to more than 1,000 Kanawha County miners, the company signed an agreement with West Virginia environmental regulators to ante up $50 million for mine reclamation projects.

The agreement with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection comes in the midst of the company’s bankruptcy proceedings in Richmond.

Patriot Coal

Ohio and Pennsylvania regulators say Patriot Coal's reorganization plan doesn't adequately address the company's obligations to clean up mine pollution.

Both states opposed the plan's approval in separate motions filed this week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Richmond, Virginia.

Alpha Natural Resources

Alpha Natural Resources is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the fourth big coal producer to do so within the last two years.

The company operates about 60 coal mines throughout Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Wyoming.

Patriot Coal Corp. has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the second time in three years.

    

The company made the filing Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. It had emerged from an earlier bankruptcy case in December 2013 in Missouri.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Freedom Industries is proposing paying $6.7 million to various parties, including victims of the company's January 2014 chemical spill.

In Charleston federal bankruptcy court Thursday, the company proposed a plan to offer spill victims $2.7 million.

The January 2014 spill contaminated 300,000 residents' tap water for days. Businesses that couldn't operate without water, including restaurants, and individuals are seeking compensation.

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  A federal bankruptcy judge is calling for parties to meet to discuss how to conclude the case of Freedom Industries, whose January 2014 chemical spill caused a tap-water ban for 300,000 people for days.

The Charleston Gazette reports Judge Ronald Pearson scheduled a March 3 status conference in the case.

AP

A federal bankruptcy judge has approved a $2.9 million settlement to benefit 300,000 people whose water was contaminated in a January chemical spill.

  Judge Ronald Pearson filed the order Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Charleston. A U.S. District Court judge's approval is also needed.

The proposal would rely on insurance proceeds from bankrupt Freedom Industries. The company's January spill spurred a tap-water ban for days. Freedom filed for bankruptcy eight days later.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  A bankruptcy judge is concerned that a chemical company may abandon the site of a massive January spill without cleaning it up.

Judge Ronald Pearson expressed the concern in an order filed Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Charleston.

The order points out that Freedom Industries' plan to liquidate says the company expects to pay $850,000 or less to remediate its Charleston spill site.

West Virginia American Water
Foo Conner / Flickr

  A utility is opposing a $2.9 million bankruptcy settlement that would fund projects to benefit 300,000 people whose water was contaminated in January.

West Virginia American Water says Freedom Industries shouldn't use money from its insurance proceeds to pay for the projects. The company filed its opposition last week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Charleston.

Freedom's spill in January spurred a tap-water ban for days. The company filed for bankruptcy eight days later.

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Thousands of agencies, businesses and people are trying to squeeze millions of dollars out of the bankrupt company behind West Virginia's chemical spill in January.

Case claims agent James Lane says Freedom Industries can expect about 5,000 groups to request money in bankruptcy claims over the spill. The total sought has topped $170 million and is growing.

Freedom Industries
AP

  The state of West Virginia is seeking $1.8 million from the bankrupt company that spilled chemicals into the state's largest water supply.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed the claim in bankruptcy court in Charleston.

The claim against Freedom Industries covers multiple agencies' spill response efforts, including personnel costs, clean water supplies, research and testing.

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  A bankruptcy judge is giving Freedom Industries, its insurer and stakeholders 10 days to strike an agreement on its $2.9 million insurance policy.

The company that contaminated West Virginia's largest water supply returned to bankruptcy court Tuesday in Charleston.

Freedom and 24 residents and businesses that sued after the spill proposed a $2.9 million settlement Friday using insurance. A board would pick projects benefiting the public to fund.

United States District Court / Southern District of West Virginia

  The company at the center of a chemical spill into West Virginia's largest water supply is back in bankruptcy court Tuesday.

Freedom Industries has a Tuesday morning hearing scheduled in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Charleston. The hearing will involve a $2.9 million settlement with Freedom's insurer.

Lawyers for Freedom Industries and businesses and people who sued Freedom reached a tentative settlement, according to documents filed Friday in Charleston federal court.

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  Slip-ups such as not reading emails and leaving chemical headquarters unattended keep producing problems for a company months after it sullied 300,000 people's drinking water.

Contractor troubles, miscalculations and missteps have kept state environmental violations rolling in after Freedom Industries' Charleston chemical tank leak in January. Other state and federal investigations are still ongoing.

State environmental regulators aren't rushing to slap penalties against Freedom.

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Federal health officials are opposing the planned sale of Fairmont General Hospital to Alecto Healthcare Services.

U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld filed the objection Monday on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wheeling.

The filing says the sale would violate federal law by preventing full repayment of money owed on Medicare contracts. Instead, the sale proposes to set limits of up to $1.5 million for repayment on three contracts.

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  A federal bankruptcy judge has set an Aug. 1 deadline for financial claims by West Virginia residents and businesses affected by a January chemical spill in Charleston that contaminated the local water supply.

Proof of claims forms can be obtained and filed on the U.S. Bankruptcy Court's website. The Charleston Gazette reports business losses must be accompanied by documentation, while residents don't need such documentation for personal damage.

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A bankruptcy judge is expected to approve Freedom Industries' request to sell its Poca Blending facility unless a better bid is submitted by Friday afternoon.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Ronald Pearson found the proposed buyer, Lexycon LLC, doesn't have any connection to Freedom or its former controlling officers. Pearson also said the sale's terms and conditions, and the negotiations, weren't inappropriate.

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

 The company at the center of a January chemical spill in West Virginia is returning to bankruptcy court.

Several motions by Freedom Industries will be heard Tuesday afternoon at the federal courthouse in Charleston.

The company responsible for the chemical leak has asked a judge for approval to pay $1.9 million for work completed by various lawyers and consultants. A subsequent court filing proposes ways to reduce those costs.

Freedom Industries
AP

A bankruptcy judge is concerned that a company responsible for a West Virginia chemical spill wants to sell remaining property to a company tied to former executives.

Freedom Industries has filed a motion to sell chemicals and property at a leased secondary facility, Poca Blending in Nitro, to Lexycon LLC.

Lexycon President Kevin Skiles and independent consultant Dennis Farrell are former Freedom executives. Lexycon was formed in Florida in March.

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The now-bankrupt company at the center of West Virginia's chemical spill wants to sell what's left at its other site to a company tied to former executives.

Freedom Industries filed court motions Monday seeking permission to sell chemicals and property in Nitro at Poca Blending, which Freedom leases. Lexycon LLC would be the buyer.      

Lexycon President Kevin Skiles and independent consultant Dennis Farrell are former Freedom executives. The company was formed in Florida in March.

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  The company at the center of West Virginia's chemical spill says costs of $1.9 million accumulated since the January leak "appear to be large," but are justified. Freedom Industries Chief Restructuring Officer Mark Welch wrote in bankruptcy filings that despite the price tag, the court should let Freedom make the payments through March 31 for contractors. The costs include environmental cleanup, legal fees, consulting and more.

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