RALEIGH -- Residents and businesses
evacuated after the explosion at a hazardous waste warehouse in Apex
three years ago have two weeks to seek compensation under a
class-action suit settlement approved Tuesday.
Industrial Services and two other companies will pay up to $7.85
million to settle the suit. They agree to pay $750 to each household
that evacuated following the explosion and up to $2,200 to each
business that was forced to close.
Households and business owners
have until Oct. 20 to file a claim. Claims forms were mailed this
summer to each address in the evacuation zones and are available at www.apexfiresettlement.com.
About 1,900 of the more than
3,000 eligible households in the evacuation zones have filed claims so
far, said Robert Zaytoun, one of the lawyers who brought the
Zaytoun expects that the number of claims will rise as the deadline nears.
"There's always a rush at the end," he said.
many as 15,000 residents were forced or encouraged to leave their homes
after the EQ warehouse exploded on the night of Oct. 5, 2006. The
inferno sent fireballs into the air and a pungent cloud of smoke and
chemicals through nearby neighborhoods.
The settlement includes
$2.9 million in plaintiffs' attorney fees and $322,000 in expenses. The
town could receive up to $85,000 for equipment and training. Payments
to homeowners and businesses should begin going out just before
Zaytoun said money was not the suit's primary aim.
is a way of saying that you can't do business, particularly the
hazardous waste business, without putting safety first," he said. "It's
a loud message I believe that will go beyond this case."
officials said in July that they considered the settlement fair. The
payments it requires come on top of voluntary ones the company made to
the town and to people affected by the evacuation.
the explosion, EQ invited people to submit claims for expenses related
to the evacuation, such as restaurant meals and hotels, and paid out
The company paid the town $200,000 to cover its expenses.
2007, the state fined EQ for failing to report earlier fires and
chemical reactions at its Apex warehouse. The company agreed to pay
more than $400,000 in penalties and fees and to give up its permit to
operate in Apex.
U.S. District Judge Earl Britt approved a
preliminary version of the class-action suit settlement in July and
gave his final blessing Tuesday after a hearing.
No one objected to the settlement at the hearing.