$2.9 million deal reached in W.Va. chemical spill

Plaintiffs’ attorneys have reached a $2.9 million lawsuit settlement deal with the company responsible for a West Virginia chemical spill that contaminated the drinking water for about 300,000 residents near Charleston.

The money would come from the insurance of the now bankrupt Freedom Industries, as well as possible proceeds from the sale of the company’s assets, according to a Friday filing in federal court. The funds would be overseen by a board, and go to benefit residents, businesses and others affected by the January spill into the Elk River of a chemical used to clean coal.

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An attorney for the class of plaintiffs told the Charleston Gazette that the money could go to health monitoring, water testing and similar projects. The settlement is subject to court approval, and would be made part of Freedom’s bankruptcy liquidation plan.

Leaking storage tanks released 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol into the river in January near where the local water utility’s intake, resulting in orders not to drink tap water. Hundreds of residents became sick and businesses closed for days.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers would not be entitled to fees under the settlement, the Gazette said.