CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said city leaders will begin making plans to file a lawsuit over the water crisis starting Wednesday or Thursday.
“We are not sure who the defendants will be and we’re not sure who the plaintiffs will be,” according to Jones.
The mayor said damage was done to several other agencies connected to the city and those groups could get involved. At least one, possibly two law firms, will handle the case.
It’s been two weeks since the water crisis began. Up to 7,500 gallons of MCHM leaked into the Elk River from an above ground tank at Freedom Industries and into the West Virginia American Water treatment plant just down stream. On Tuesday, Freedom’s President Gary Southern admitted another chemical, PPH, had been mixed in with the MCHM in that tank as an additive.
The fallout from the water crisis has already cost the city $120,000 in lost tax revenue. However, the mayor said the damage goes far beyond that figure.
“This will be used against us trying to recruit people to come here. This will be used by our competitors,” explained Jones.
Charleston has seen a big bump in tourism over the past decade thanks to hard work by the city and the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau. Jones said those tourism dollars are in danger.
“It’s very discouraging. These people didn’t deserve this. These nine-counties didn’t deserve this. They didn’t do anything to deserve it and it’s shameful!”
The impact to individual businesses like restaurants, beauty shops and hotels could be enormous. But those numbers are likely to take months to gather.
Jones said at this point there is no time line to file the lawsuit.