Local News

Apex residents, businesses to get paid for chemical explosion

Posted February 15, 2010 11:20 a.m. EST

— Settlement checks will soon start going out to Apex residents who had to leave their homes and businesses in October 2006 after an explosion and fire at a local hazardous waste facility.

When the Environmental Quality Industrial Services facility erupted into a fireball on Oct. 5, 2006, 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.

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

Residents sued EQ and some of the companies that sent oxygen canisters to the facility for disposal. 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.

Funding was approved last week for a in the case. Under the settlement, EQ and two Alabama-based companies that shipped the oxygen canisters to Apex agreed to pay up to $750 to each household which evacuated to compensate for the trouble of leaving their home and incidental expenses incurred. Businesses that were forced to close during the evacuation will receive up to $2,200.

The payments will be in addition to earlier payments from EQ to compensate for evacuation expenses.

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 there.