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Federal agents descend on site affiliated with Freedom Industries

AMANDAVILLE, W.Va. — Dozens of federal agents and state investigators descended on a site owned by a company connected to Freedom Industries Thursday afternoon.

Agents gathered evidence throughout the evening at Diversified Services, the company that transported crude MCHM for Freedom Industries from Charleston to Poca Blending.

Officials from the State Police, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation, including the FBI's Evidence Response Team, were all on site. Questions were referred to the Charleston FBI office.

Chris Courtright, the FBI resident agent-in-charge in Charleston, would not confirm or deny any details of the apparent search.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said he couldn't comment on the situation.

One worker, who asked not to be identified, said there were about 40 agents on the site when he arrived for work Thursday.

Officials could be seen in and around the Diversified Services building and talking to neighboring residents. The team was also taking water samples from small streams near the property.

Diversified Services is used by Freedom Industries to transport crude MCHM, and has done so for several years.

In January, Diversified Services was the company responsible for moving remaining crude MCHM from Freedom Industries' facility along the Elk River in Charleston to a storage facility at Poca Blending in Nitro.

Between Jan. 9, the date of the spill at Freedom, and Feb. 18, Freedom paid Diversified Services $418,736.21

Neighbors around the Diversified Services property have complained to state and local officials about the stench associated with MCHM for years and expressed concerns about how MCHM is handled at the site.

Specifically, neighbors told the Daily Mail earlier this year they've seen tanker trucks with lids propped open and runoff from the tanks being washed running toward the Kanawha River.

The chemical's telltale licorice odor hung in the air around the site Thursday.

After the January crude MCHM leak at Freedom Industries' Etowah Terminal along the Elk River, neighbors said the state Department of Environmental Protection visited Diversified Services numerous times.

Diversified Services was formed in 2010 by Daniel Kessler with a listed purpose of "real estate."

Kessler also owns Buffalo Ridge Farms & Environmental Services, which is licensed to do business as Allstate Wrecker and Recovery and Buffalo Ridge Pre-owned and Rebuilder Sales.


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