More than 100,000 households and businesses have been left without potable water because of a large-scale chemical spill discovered Thursday on the Elk River near Charlestown, West Virginia. The spill occurred just north of one of the largest water treatment plants in America and as many as 480,000 residents may be affected.
Officials believe methylcyclohexene methanol, a chemical used in the coal washing process, leaked into the Elk River from a 48,000 gallon containment tank at a site run by Freedom Industries, Inc. The Governor of West Virginia has declared a state of emergency for nine counties and countless businesses have been ordered shuttered. Reports indicate that federal law enforcement and the U.S. Attorney for West Virginia are exploring federal criminal charges in connection with the spill.
Experts warn that ingesting or inhaling the chemical poses potentially severe health risks. Residents near the Elk River have already complained of a strong licorice-type odor that has produced eye and skin irritations, headaches, difficulty breathing and other health issues and at least five people have been hospitalized for symptoms related to the leak.
STSW is working with attorneys and others on the ground in West Virginia to explore and preserve all the legal claims that may be available against the entities and individuals responsible for causing and/or contributing to this disaster. At least three class action lawsuits have already been filed and, based on our extensive experience in environmental toxic tort litigation, we urge affected residents to be careful to select attorneys with the experience and resources necessary to take on these extremely complex cases against what will undoubtedly be aggressive and well-financed defendants.
STSW senior partner Bill Sinclair has extensive experience litigating ground and water contamination cases in West Virginia and with the federal and State statutes likely at play here.
STSW is a leading class action law firm, recently having filed a national class action against the National Hockey League on behalf of players suffering from the health effects of concussions. Read more about that case here
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