CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia residents who went without drinking water in connection with the 2014 chemical spill and water emergency in a nine county region of the Mountain State will soon see a check for compensation during that time in their mailbox.
The first checks in the settlement over the 2014 water crises will be going out Friday or Monday.
Around 200,000 residents and businesses in total will receive checks equaling $73 million.
Residents will receive $482 with an additional $157 per resident, and businesses will receive $1,645.
“These are the people who took the simple claim option,” said attorney Anthony Majestro who helped manage the class action litigation. “The next batch will be those who filed the more complicated business and government claims and claims for medical expenses.”
It was an almost 80 percent response to the class action settlement. Majestro, who does a lot of class action case work, said normally the response rate is about 10 percent. The number or respondents actually wound up lowering the amount each claimant received.
“We got way more claims than we ever thought we were going to get,” Majestro said. “We think it’s a good thing in the end since we end up benefiting more people who were affected in the water crises.”
As the checks arrive, they’ll include a letter explaining the settlement and will include a number to call if there are any questions or problems with the person’s claim.
West Virginia American Water Company and Eastman Chemical, the maker of MCHM, are paying the $151 million in settlement funds.
The lawsuit alleged the water company was not prepared for what happened just a short distance upstream from its Kanawha Valley Plant on the Elk River in Charleston when the chemical MCHM spilled from the Freedom Industries tank farm. Eastman Chemical was sued because it was the maker of MCHM. Both agreed to settle but neither admitted fault. Both companies have blamed Freedom Industries. That company went bankrupt shortly after the spill.
The spill of MCHM on the Elk River contaminated drinking water for more than 300,000 residents in parts of nine West Virginia counties on Jan. 9, 2014, creating the drinking water emergency.