Local News

Settlement checks for Apex chemical explosion delivered

Posted March 4, 2010 9:03 a.m. EST

— 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 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.