Court says $6.7m proposal from the company responsible for huge West Virginia chemical spill is inadequate

A West Virginia judge has rejected a $6.7 million (£4.3 million) bankruptcy plan from Freedom Industries, stemming from the January 2014 chemical spill that contaminated the tap water of 300,000 residents for several days. The company had offered to pay spill victims $2.7 million, which Judge Ronald Pearson called inadequate.

‘While the court does not make a definitive finding, it seems clear that those responsible for overseeing the storage of potentially hazardous materials were less vigilant than required over several years with respect to these responsibilities prior to the spill incident,’ Pearson concluded. This has resulted in criminal charges against these parties, he said, noting that the proposed settlement amounts ‘barely scratch the surface’ of the damages resulting from conditions that existed during the company’s stewardship of the storage tanks.