CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Several non-profit organizations and groups that represent low-income state residents have filed a motion with the state Supreme Court in connection with the water emergency that began with a chemical leak Jan. 9.

The groups, including the Charleston-based Covenant House and West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, are seeking answers from the state Bureau of Public Health and the state Department of Environmental Protection.

(Read court filing here)

They want the Supreme Court to “compel” the two agencies to “comply with their clear, mandatory duties under statute and legislative rule to protect the public health and water quality of West Virginians.”

The court filing alleges both agencies have failed in their response to the Freedom Industries leak of MCHM and the contamination of the water in parts of nine counties served by West Virginia American Water Company.

The lawsuit says the chemical spill and its impacts were “avoidable and should have come as no surprise” to the DEP and Bureau of Public Health. The suit says the agencies have been warned numerous times to take preventive steps.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Charleston resident Monique Watkins and Covenant House client Virginia Gardner.


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  • Jim

    Here come the lawyers with their hands out for money under the pretense that they are doing it for the little people. Give me a break.


    A prominent West Virginia politician is urging citizens to not drink the water despite officials saying it is ‘appropriate’ for use.

    Senator Jay Rockefeller (D) told a Charleston television station that state officials are in bed with the energy industry and that people should further question both the potability of their water and how those relationships affect authorities’ judgement.

    ‘Even if some expert group told me it was safe, I don’t think I’d believe it,’ Rockefeller told WCHS during a blistering interview railing against both the state and heavy industry.


    • BAC

      Jay probably has NEVER drunk tap water! And he's normally been wrong about everything, so who'd listen to him?

  • Mason County Contrarian

    One gets the sense that our state and local government politician$, as well as their appointee$, are at their most inept when we need them the most--regardless of political affiliation.

    Good thing this water emergency was limited to a nine-county region. Imagine if it was statewide.

    • Mournful

      And what do you expect our politicians do? They need the "evil" heavy industries to provide the job market and in turn the tax base to pay these ridiculous civil servant pension plans and insurance.

  • Donovan

    Blog on MCHM:

  • An Insider

    I'm telling you people-- look at Kanawha County Government-- they were the ones with the duty of responsibility AND authority to prevent this.

  • Brad

    Let's say they sue the State and win millions of dollars (unlikely, you have to go through the Court of Claims, etc. but let's just say so for the sake of making a point). Who do you think would foot the bill for that? The TAXPAYERS.

    • Ole Sasquatch

      He is right. I move any expense and payoffs be matched by an equal tax cut. However, that will be folly considering how govt. is. All it would take is for a politician to come out and wave his hands & arms around a few times and there would be no tax cut. In other words the govt. has us right where they want us. When are we all going to realize that and throw the bums out and manage so much more effectively & efficiently with a much, much smaller govt. All three: State, Fed. and local.

  • PMQ

    Where is BloJoe Manchin in all this??? He should be asked some very tough questions. Some of the issues date back to his regime. But, as usual, he skates through. No one lays a hand on him. Joke.

    • Moving Van

      BloJoe is hiding out with the coal lobby. Don't think this has not scared the hell out them. The coal rivers full of this chemical, it's just diluted down to escape detection.
      PMQ...BloJoe fits him perfectly.

    • Wowbagger


      Obviously he can see no route to good publicity so Ole Joe is lying low!

  • Richard L.

    "Several non-profit organizations and groups that represent low-income state residents" these non profits, groups and "low income" residents are just try to make a buck

    • Facethefacts

      Low income represents the majority of the West Virginia population. Look at the statistic for Kanawha County. Most children are on a free or reduced cost lunch. So my point is they are not representing some small segment of the population. This is the Charleston metro's not Beverly Hills. Like it or not.

  • alex

    The lower salaried employees at the BPH will take the hits, while all the super secretaries, commissioners, deputy commissioners, office directors & managers will continue to say what the Governors office tells them to. The spill has been a mess. Pointing fingers won't prevent another such event. WV continues to amaze.

    • Wowbagger

      I agree that lower level public employees are likely to be the fall guys and the political class will try to dodge all responsibility.

      Most rational pre-disaster responses would have involved a redundant and/or relocated water intake as well as action against Freedom Industries and other potential polluters. The only way to fund these capital improvements would have been a politically unpopular rate increase. And, no you can't expect investors aka stock and bond holders to foot the bill as they will simply sell their holdings for a loss and move on bankrupting the water company.

      Bottom line: Customers who would object to a rate increase to allow the water company flexibility have some responsibility too! There is a lot of responsability to spread around.

  • lie detector


  • Whip

    The DEP failed to live up to the charter of the agency. In industry someone, or several would have been terminated for this horrific blunder. I think there are two issues. One, the agency caves into political pressure to look the other way and is not aggressive in enforcement. Two, the agency is filled with under qualified, low performers that can not get a job anywhere else. Most if not all the people that leave the DEP for better jobs.....will tell horror stories. This is the recipe for the disaster that happened.

    • PMQ


      • TruthnWV

        I was raised in the "chemical valley"! Remember as a child the smells and all! West Virginians one question? If we couldn't have smelled this would we have ever known about it? NO! It is hard to tell what we have drank, or breathed in our lifetime. As for the coal industry, I have so much respect for hard working miners, but zero respect for coal operators who raped our state for financial gain! Allk you have to do is drive thru coal country and the evidence is clear!