WV American Water Company reveals why it won't disclose safety p - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

WV American Water Company reveals why it won't disclose safety plan

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West Virginia American Water doesn't plan on handing over safety plan West Virginia American Water doesn't plan on handing over safety plan
The West Virginia Public Service Commission has been conducting an investigation on West Virginia American Water's role in the January 9, 2014 chemical leak. At this point, most know about the leak of a chemical called Crude MCHM at Freedom Industries. It contaminated the drinking water of more than 300,000 West Virginians, but what we don't know is what safety plan the water company had in place to protect residents from it.

That's what the Consumer Division of the West Virginia PSC is trying to find out, but lawyers representing WVAW don't think that information is important to the investigation.

"It's obvious that they weren't prepared for something of this type to occur," said U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin. While they might not have been prepared for the massive chemical spill back in January, it doesn't mean that the plan can't be improved for the future.

If in fact the safety plan in place before the chemical spill wasn't up to par, Goodwin believes it could change the decision in the case against West Virginia American Water.

When we talked with officials from WVAW they told 13 News: "They are not permitted to discuss emergency response plans. They are submitted to the DEP and protected from public disclosure under federal law by the 2002 Bioterrorism Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act".

The act is in place to protect public utility providers from becoming a target for terrorism.

While not wanting these safety plans to get into the wrong hands, officials with the PSC feel that seeing the plans is crucial to the case. 

As of now commissioners with the West Virginia Public Service Commission are meeting to decide if they need to require the submission of these safety documents. 

If they do decide to require them, it doesn't necessarily mean they will become public knowledge. "They could decide that information is critical for them to decide the outcome of the case but not something that should be available to the general public for competitive purposes or purposes of public safety" said Communications Director of the WVPSC, Susan Small. 

In any case, the West Virginia Public Service Commission understands the importance of moving this case along. The decision made by PSC Commissioners should be final in a few weeks.

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