State News

$7.5 million settlement offered in Apex plant fire

Posted October 29, 2008
Updated October 30, 2008

— A $7.5 million settlement has been proposed for Apex residents who evacuated homes and businesses when a chemical waste depot exploded on the night of Oct. 5, 2006.

Attorneys for the residents and Environmental Quality Industrial Services outlined the settlement in federal court in Raleigh on Tuesday.

Each household that evacuated and filed a claim would be paid about $720, minus any money EQ had already paid them for evacuation expenses.

Businesses would receive a maximum of $2,000 if they could prove economic loss.

Attorneys for the residents said about 4,200 households and 450 businesses would be eligible.

Residents and firms can opt out of the settlement to pursue their own claims, attorneys said. The settlement also doesn't cover any claims for personal injury from the incident.

U.S. Magistrate James Gates did not rule on the settlement Tuesday.

An explosion and rapidly spreading fire at the EQ plant created a plume that Apex officials feared contained toxic chemicals, so they ordered 17,000 residents – more than half the town – to leave their homes.

“You could just see lights and it was just bright yellows and oranges,” Apex resident Tara Wilder said of the explosion.

Wilder says she remembers the explosion rocking the pictures inside her home.

"I thought, 'Oh my gosh, that is a mile from my house,'” she said.

The fire burned itself out the following day, and residents were allowed to return to their homes two days after the explosion.

No one was seriously hurt in the incident, although 30 people, including 13 first responders, had to seek medical attention.

"It caused a lot of anxiety to a lot of people,” attorney Robert Zaytoun said.

Federal investigators say mislabeled oxygen generators at EQ, which collected hazardous materials from businesses and repackaged them for disposal elsewhere, probably fueled the fire.

Apex has changed its zoning to prevent EQ from reopening a facility, and the state adopted tighter safety and reporting regulations for hazardous waste facilities.

"The things that happened that night are totally unacceptable,” Apex resident Randy Wilder said.

EQ settled complaint with state regulators by agreeing to pay more than $400,000 in penalties, fees and reimbursements to the state.


This story is closed for comments. Comments on news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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  • Amused Oct 30, 7:44 p.m.

    Why would y'all live so close a potential hazardous site?
    Click to view my profile ThisIsMyNam

    Why are you ignorant?

  • Amused Oct 30, 7:41 p.m.

    Apex (Cary Wannabees)...get over it. Things happen. Being inconvenienced is NOT grounds for a lawsuit, or compensation.
    Click to view my profile freddie cadetti 72

    LOL!I hope nothing ever blows up in Cary. Cary-ites already whine too much through their noses, could you imagine the whinning they'll do if that ever happens?!!

  • happymom Oct 29, 4:38 p.m.

    "Why would y'all live so close a potential hazardous site?

    It's not exactly next door. The evacuation covered a pretty good amount of acreage.

  • Adelinthe Oct 29, 4:28 p.m.

    ThisIsMyName - "Why would y'all live so close a potential hazardous site?"

    The town authorities didn't even know what this company had stored; why would neighbors or business living nearby???


    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • Adelinthe Oct 29, 4:27 p.m.

    freddie cadetti - "Things happen. Being inconvenienced is NOT grounds for a lawsuit, or compensation."

    Must not be one of the ones that had to close a business or be evacuated.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • Adelinthe Oct 29, 4:25 p.m.


    Dream on.

    People were scared and uprooted; nearby business and schools had to close to say nothing of the time and expense incurred for emergency response personnel. Are they kidding!?!

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • sst100 Oct 29, 4:07 p.m.

    Some folks are just trying to be provocative... Who knew what EQ was doing what it was doing (and not doing it according to the law)? I can guarantee that most people are not aware of what happens within five miles of their houses... Check out the EPA hazardous wastes site and you will be VERY surprised what is stored near your house or what is moving by it on a regular basis. You could be the next EQ-like story.

    Yes, I live in Apex. Not Cary. Proud on both counts.

  • ThisIsMyName Oct 29, 3:32 p.m.

    Why would y'all live so close a potential hazardous site?

  • Shiger Oct 29, 3:05 p.m.

    "Apex (Cary Wannabees)...get over it. Things happen. Being inconvenienced is NOT grounds for a lawsuit, or compensation."

    - Evidently, it is grounds for compensation because I have $720 coming my way.

  • happymom Oct 29, 12:21 p.m.

    Somehow I left out the hotel bill from my assessment of our expenses. Sorry about that.