CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A federal bankruptcy judge is calling for parties to meet to discuss how to conclude the case of Freedom Industries, whose January 2014 chemical spill caused a tap-water ban for 300,000 people for days.
The Charleston Gazette reports Judge Ronald Pearson scheduled a March 3 status conference in the case.
In a Feb. 6 order, Pearson noted more than $300 million in claims had been filed against Freedom. Spill victims filed 3,800 of them.
Pearson said Freedom has $1.5 million left after starting the case with almost $16 million.
Freedom's most recent financial report showed payables of $3.2 million for legal and environmental consulting costs. Those haven't yet been approved by the court, Pearson pointed out.
Pearson said the court isn't comfortable deciding a proposed $3.2 million insurance settlement without consulting spill claimants. Ex-Freedom President Gary Southern has objected to the settlement.
A potential insurance settlement could pay for projects that benefit the affected residents, like additional water testing or health studies.
Southern, five other ex-Freedom officials and the company itself face charges in the spill. Southern also faces fraud charges in the bankruptcy case.
In his order, Pearson said much of the work to tear down and remediate the Charleston site of the spill has been completed.
The company's proposal to work through the state Department of Environmental Protection's voluntary remediation program for cleanup efforts is still pending.