Posted by Ethan James.
There was a chemical spill into the Elk River, two years ago, that came from a storage tank owned by Freedom Industries. This spill caused a temporary shutdown of businesses within the region around the river, as well as many residents of the Charleston area needing to go to the emergency room with symptoms of rashes and nausea. The damages caused by the chemical spill hurt the local economy and people, so a class-action lawsuit was ensued.
The lawsuit was against Eastman Chemical and West Virginia American Water Co., as through the actions of both companies lead to damages against the people of the Charleston area. “The suit alleged the water company was unprepared for the spill and that Eastman Chemical didn’t advise Freedom of the dangers of the coal-cleaning agent,”(Michael Virtanen). There is a fear that Eastman did not properly warn the water company of the damage to others or how to properly contain it. In addition, the water company was said to be “unprepared for the spill”(Michael Virtanen), in both the damages that were inflicted on the tanks and how to proceed with the consequences of the spill.
The U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver approved a $151 million dollar settlement that involved both companies, splitting the settlement. West Virginia American Water Co. is going to pay $126 million, while Eastman Chemical will proceed to pay $25 million. “The money will be distributed to affected residents and businesses through an application process to be determined later,”(The Associated Press). There has been an update to proceedings within the water company in order to avoid a repeat of the damages that occurred, while the chemical company has placed new regulations on inspections in order to better advise companies of their products.
Ethan is a management, finance, and ITM Majors and legal studies minor at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2020.