CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A final hearing on the water settlement case against West Virginia American Water Company and Eastman Chemical is set for Tuesday, the four year anniversary of the Freedom Industries chemical spill on the Elk River.
“At that hearing, the judge will consider whether to grant final approval of the settlement,” said Charleston attorney Anthony Majestro. “We’re very optimistic that he’ll do so.”
The hearing is set for 10 a.m. Tuesday at the federal courthouse in Charleston.
So far, nearly 43 percent of residents impacted by the spill have submitted reimbursement claims. That’s more than 46,000 homes and businesses that lost usable tap water following the incident.
The total class size is around 120,000.
“We’re obviously very pleased with where we are so far, but that’s still on 43 percent, so we want to encourage everybody who hasn’t filed a claim to go ahead and do so,” Majestro said.
The numbers come from a claims report filed Dec. 29 in federal court in connection with the settlement.
As part of the settlement, up to $151 million is available for impacted residents. Both WVAWC and Eastman do not admit liability, according to the agreement.
On Jan. 9, 2014, the chemical MCHM leaked into the Elk River in Charleston creating a water crisis for more than 300,000 residents in parts of nine West Virginia counties.
Majestro said the public’s response to the case has been incredible.
“We’re finally at the point now where we have a light at the end of the tunnel. We think the community’s reaction in how many claims that have been filed and the lack of objection to the settlement is a good indicator that they believe that this was a good result,” he said.
Claims can be filed at www.wvwaterclaims.com or via mail through forms mailed to affected residents with Claim ID numbers.
In general, the six main categories for claim filings are residential, business, hourly wage earners, medical, pregnancy and government.
The claim filing deadline is Feb. 21.