Judge denies water crisis legal settlement, asks for changes

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A federal judge has declined to grant preliminary approval to a $151 million settlement stemming from a 2014 chemical spill that sparked a water crisis in West Virginia.

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Local news outlets report Judge John T. Copenhaver Jr. said in an order Thursday that he wants changes to the deal with West Virginia American Water Co. and Eastman Chemical.

The proposal would have distributed the money among residents, businesses and others whose drinking water was contaminated when thousands of gallons of a coal-cleaning agent leaked from the now-defunct Freedom Industries' storage tank into the Elk River in January 2014.

The spill left about 300,000 people without water for up to nine days.

Copenhaver raised concerns about how the terms awarded money, legal fees and timeliness of payments to spill victims.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://wvgazettemail.com.