Ashton Marra Published

Trial Over 2014 Chemical Spill Set to Begin


Jury selection begins Tuesday in Charleston in the class-action lawsuit against a chemical company and a water utility. 

The trial over a 2014 chemical spill that resulted in the contamination of more than 300,000 people’s drinking water is set to begin this week. 

Tuesday, attorneys on both sides will appear before Judge John Copenhaver in U.S. Federal District Court to begin selecting the 12 person jury.

Hundreds of area businesses impacted by the chemical spill into the Elk River are suing Eastman Chemical and West Virginia American Water over the incident.

Eastman produces the coal cleaning chemical MCHM which was leaked into the water supply resulting in a do not use order. West Virginia American Water is the water utility that provides service to the impacted 9 county area.

The businesses allege the utility did not properly prepare to respond to the Jan. 9, 2014, incident and that Eastman did not properly warn Freedom Industries, the company storing MCHM mixed with other chemicals about a mile upstream of the public drinking water intake, about the chemical’s safety concerns.

Lawyers on both sides are reportedly still negotiating a settlement.