Danish tanker and bunker group United Shipping & Trading Co (USTC) is providing money to help residents of a village hit by a landslide of toxic soil.

It is donating DKK 50m ($7.3m) to the inhabitants of Olst affected by the environmental disaster in January.

USTC, owned by the Ostergaard-Nielsen family, controls Uni-Tankers. It said it is reaching out a “helping hand” in close dialogue with the villagers.

The shipowner and Olst Citizens’ Association have agreed how the funds can be distributed.

The cash will go initially for financial support to residents, and then potentially new community facilities.

USTC chief executive and co-owner Nina Ostergaard Borris said: “The landslide in Olst has affected many citizens who have been in a very difficult situation in recent months.

“That is why I am happy that we at USTC now have the opportunity to make a real difference for those people.

“The dialogue with the citizens of Olst has been open and trusting, and we agree that in the end it is the citizens who know best how this voluntary donation does the most good for the city’s future.”

Residents have also said they want to use USTC’s expertise for legal and financial advice, should the need arise.

“It is a wish that USTC will meet in order to help the support association get off to a good start,” Ostergaard Borris added.

Human activity blamed

The disaster began after 2m tonnes of soil began moving at a nearby plant, run by Nordic Waste.

A report by the Geological Survey of Denmark & Greenland into the scandal, which prompted outrage across Denmark, found the landslide was caused by human, not natural, activity. It is understood to include material from Norway.

Clean-up costs were expected to reach DKK 205m to the end of June, and could eventually run into billions, The Guardian reported.

Nordic Waste declared itself bankrupt, saying the disaster had reached such a scale that it could not combat it.

The chairman of the village citizens’ association, Jan Jensen, said: “We have experienced great interest from the outside world since we turned our daily life and family life upside down.

“So far there has been little action and concrete help, but with the prospect of a donation at this level, there is now light on the horizon.”