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New suit against EQ claims company was negligent

Posted April 30, 2010

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— An Apex couple filed suit Friday claiming that negligence by Environmental Quality Industrial Services, Inc., caused them physical injury and on-going medical costs after a fire and explosion at the hazardous waste facility in October 2006.

Jason Stewart, an Apex police officer, and Patricia Creta are seeking $75,000 each in damages.

When the EQ facility erupted into a fireball, town officials ordered about 17,000 people to evacuate because they feared that toxic chemicals were in the plume of smoke that spread over Apex.

Some residents claimed health problems from exposure to the smoke from the fire, but environmental tests taken during and after the evacuation showed no harmful effects from the plume.

Stewart, who helped with the evacuation, claims in the suit to have suffered a sore throat, headache, light-headedness and shortness of breath. Creta claims that after she left the immediate area of the fire, she had pain in her head, chest and throat. Both have been diagnosed with asthma, according to the suit.

The company has already settled a class action suit with Apex residents and businesses, allotting almost $8 million to hundreds of claimants. The company also agreed not to reopen the facility to settle a state fine over environmental violations there.

Investigators determined that improperly stored canisters caused the rapid spread of the fire throughout the facility.


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