Judge gives initial OK to $4m settlement in diesel spill

BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) — A judge has given preliminary approval to a $4 million class action settlement over a January 2015 tanker truck diesel fuel spill in southern West Virginia that briefly shut down tap water supplies for about 12,000 people.

According to The Register-Herald , Greenbrier County Judge Robert Richardson gave the initial settlement approval Monday in the lawsuit against Kenneth Pritt, Woodford Transportation and Woodford Oil Company.

The spill occurred when a tanker truck went into a tributary near Neola that feeds Anthony Creek. The tanker separated from the truck and started leaking.

Contaminants flowed from the creek into the Greenbrier River and caused Lewisburg officials to shut down water treatment plants before the spill of nearly 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel could reach the intake for the Lewisburg Municipal Water System.

The system serves Lewisburg, Frankfurt, Ronceverte and Renick.

Water supplies were exhausted the next day and people were left without tap water for drinking, bathing, cooking and cleaning. Tanker trucks were set up to provide people with clean water. Officials began restoring water service the day after that.

The county health department ordered businesses, schools and daycares to close temporarily.

Affected residents and owners or workers of businesses are eligible to collect.

The terms allow a one-person household that lost water to receive $250, and homes with more people able to recover $150 more per each additional person.

Workers at businesses that shut down due to lost water and who weren’t paid as a result can receive $240 a piece, while business owners can collect up to $3,100 each.

Pritt, the driver of the truck, has not been criminally charged in the spill.

The incident came about one year after a January 2014 spill of a coal-cleaning chemical in Charleston that sullied the water supply and spurred a ban on tap water for about 300,000 people for days.

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