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Settlement checks for Apex chemical explosion delivered

Posted March 4, 2010

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— Replacement settlement checks have been delivered to hundreds of Apex residents who had to leave their homes and businesses in October 2006 after an explosion and fire at a local hazardous waste facility, an attorney for the residents said Thursday.

The original checks were mailed on Feb. 16, but as of Tuesday, U.S. Postal Service could not locate 1,496 checks that were to be delivered to the 27502 ZIP code.

The settlement administrator canceled those checks and issued new ones, said Jesse Shapiro, an attorney representing residents in the case. Those checks were mailed on an expedited basis. The old checks will not be delivered if they are found.

"We are very pleased with the prompt actions taken by the Post Office and the claims administrator," Shaprio said Thursday.

The checks were part of a $7.85 million settlement between Environmental Quality Industrial Services and about 17,000 people forced to evacuate on Oct. 5, 2006, after an explosion at an EQ plant. Town officials feared that toxic chemicals were in the plume of smoke that spread over Apex.

Investigators determined that improperly stored canisters caused the rapid spread of the fire throughout the facility, and residents sued EQ and some of the companies that sent oxygen canisters to the facility for disposal.

EQ and two Alabama-based companies agreed to pay compensation to 1,678 residents and business owners. Each household in the settlement was to receive up to $750, while each business would receive up to $2,200.

EQ previously reimbursed the town of Apex more than $200,000 for its costs in responding to the fire and handling the evacuation. The company also agreed not to reopen the facility to settle a state fine over environmental violations.

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  • nanasix Mar 5, 2010

    There is nothing listed with the Sec of State Corp. Div. for this company. What is the exact name of the business where the explosion occurred? Appreciate any info

  • fl2nc2ca2md2nc Mar 4, 2010

    BigMoney, you're right. In these class-action lawsuits, those affected get some token amount of money while the lawyers get the lion's share. It's just not right...

    We didn't even submit the paperwork because, while we were in the evacuation zone, we didn't leave. We were 1/2 mile from the plant, and packed and ready to go, but the wind blew the smoke away from us thankfully... But we were totally inconvenienced, we couldn't go anywhere if we wanted to come back home that night. The police wouldn't allow you back in. Kind of ruined the weekend...

  • fl2nc2ca2md2nc Mar 4, 2010

    "When an entire lot of checks originating from one place never goes through the mail, it is not the fault of the US Postal Service. ConAgra quite simply never mailed the original checks out, hoping they would never get caught for their lack of action. Typical of corporate America these days!"

    That's just silly. Would you like to share your evidence of this conspiracy with us?

  • BigMoneyJ Mar 4, 2010

    You want to know why businesses are leaving the good old USA, please notice, that even figuring the 2200.00 ( business total to all 17000) only results in payments of 3.74 millions dollars, with the other 4 million going to the lawyers.

  • pappybigtuna1 Mar 4, 2010

    The economy is recovering, 3 stories today about businesses closing or down-sizing. Who cares anymore

  • tpbwetland Mar 4, 2010

    When an entire lot of checks originating from one place never goes through the mail, it is not the fault of the US Postal Service. ConAgra quite simply never mailed the original checks out, hoping they would never get caught for their lack of action. Typical of corporate America these days!

  • bigredtruckman Mar 4, 2010

    The postal system has become a joke. I am glad that these people finally received their checks.

  • WHEEL Mar 4, 2010

    Perhaps if the Post Office goes to 5 days/week working they will have more time to look for the missing checks. What a joke!

  • Pseudonym Mar 4, 2010

    Quick!! Cash them before they bounce!!!