Freedom Industries Chief Restructuring Officer Mark Welch is shown during an early April tour of the site. Photo by Ken Ward Jr.
Earlier this week, the state Department of Environmental Protection blasted Freedom Industries, harshly criticizing the company’s current leadership — Chief Restructuring Officer Mark Welch and attorney Mark Freedlander — for their handling of the Freedom bankruptcy and company proposals for cleaning up the site of the January 2014 Elk River chemical spill.
This morning, Welch responded with this new court filing:
Welch has some strong words back at the DEP regarding the agency’s comments about Freedom’s efforts to come up with a viable cleanup plan under the agency’s Voluntary Remediation Program:
Saying “NO” to proposals made by a VRP participant under the VRP is easy. It allows for plausible deniability and blame if the clean-up project were not to be successfully completed by the VRP participant.
But, Welch also offers some effort to continue working with DEP (despite the agency’s strong suggestion in its filing earlier this week that Welch needs to go – “Having now lost all faith in the Chief Restructuring Officer’s ability to propose an acceptable remediation plan and to deal openly and honestly with DEP, DEP has determined that the time has come to move on”). For example:
The CRO believes that a clear path forward continues to exist in the Freedom bankruptcy case, even with the backdrop of the WVDEP Plan Objection and notwithstanding the challenges described herein. The WVDEP Plan Objection demands that the CRO establish a $1.0 million fund for the benefit of WVDEP. Notwithstanding the negative connotations contained within of the WVDEP Plan Objection, the CRO views this demand as a positive step in the right direction because WVDEP has, for the first time in this process, provided the CRO with a specified target to meet.
The CRO understands the ultimate goal of the VRP to consist of implementing a risk-based remediation plan for an affected site in order to allow the site to be placed back into the stream of commerce in the State of West Virginia. With reasoned cooperation from WVDEP, the CRO can and will satisfy this goal and likewise confirm a plan of liquidation that wraps up numerous lose ends in the Freedom bankruptcy case and creates substantial value for the benefit of creditors of Freedom. These two outcomes need not be mutually exclusive, but time, and more importantly money, is running out. The CRO remains hopeful that science and practical realities of the Freedom situation rather than alterative motivations will rule the day.