CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia American Water customers who attended Monday’s congressional field hearing in Charleston said they don’t have any more confidence in their water than before the hearing.

Most of the two-plus hour hearing at the Kanawha County Courthouse was spent with members of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure committee questioning those sitting on a panel made up of representatives from the Centers for Disease Control, state Bureau of Health, West Virginia American Water and local first responders. At the end of the question and answer session the committee opened up the microphone to concerned citizens.

Mya Nye is one of them. She heads up the group People Concerned About Chemical Safety. She said no one had the answer to the big question — Is the water safe?

“I’m waiting for it,” stressed Nye. “I want safe water. I’m tired of using a camping shower to take a shower but I don’t expect we’re going to have that for a long time.”

Poca Mayor Jim Caruthers is convinced no one knows if the water coming out of WVAW taps is contaminated or not.

“Everybody wants to know, ‘Is it safe?’ I don’t think anyone can honestly tell us that,” said Caruthers.

Tyler Resiter, a recent law school graduate said all he heard from the panel was a lot of deflecting the blame.

“Definitely the panel, of people, doing the answering seemed to pass the buck a little too much. There wasn’t an acceptance of responsibility,” according to the Resiter.

Nye said she is pleased that everyone seems on board with fixing a system that is broken.

“I’m happy that questions are being asked. It’s just coming to light just how little we know about this chemical,” Nye said.

Chuck Reynolds said a thorough investigation is a must and so is regulating rogue companies like Freedom Industries. However, he stressed, just passing a law like the one U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer, Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin are sponsoring, won’t solve the problem.

“When you pass laws, you’ve got to enforce them!”

Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito said, after the hearing, she still didn’t get the answer to her main question.

“It is such a simple, stark, understandable phrase, ‘The drinking water is safe.’ It’s frustrating that nobody could say that today!”

Sen. Manchin said he wasn’t even expecting an answer to the question.

“The whole population should be able to go back to normal. Until we hear that and we haven’t heard it from the people who have the expertise, it’s very frustrating!”

One other thing he wasn’t surprised about, Freedom Industry being a no-show at the hearing despite an invitation.

“I didn’t have a problem with them not showing because I wouldn’t have believed anything they said!”

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Comments

  • Charlene

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  • Chris

    There is no European conglomerate getting profits from WVAW. The company was briefly owned by a German company, but it's parent has been publicly traded since 2007.

  • Ed Wouldn't

    Someone needs to remove the '!' key from the writer's keyboard. It should be used rarely if at all.

  • TruthTeller

    The only thing Government fix are elections and their records of corruptions.

  • TruthTeller

    This is what happens when idiots involve foreigners instead of Americans in our affairs.
    Stop the global madness. God never intended us to be global hence the separation of countries surrounded by water. The people of Babylon tried globalism and you see how things turned out for them. Also with Union Carbide in the area. Why has no one consulted them for a solution? HELLO? You involve the Feds and it will never get fixed. Anybody remember the BP oil spill issue?

  • WEST VIRGINIAN

    Step #1 Water discovered Poisoned because of bad Smell.

    Step #2 West Virginia Water Co. starts adding perfume to water supply to hide bad odor, but POISON still in peoples water & "poof" the beat goes on. (smile)

  • Independent View

    @Marvin Vernatter- as a point of clarification and historical signifance. The beginings of WVAWC in West Virginia are not tied to the PSC or the WV Legislature, for, to quote your comments: "has allowed the wealth generated from 300,000 West Virginia Customers to be siphoned away to a European conglomerate." The blame, if that's what you choose to label it, lies at the feet of Charleston's City Fathers. The water system was in a state of disrepair and the city had squandered the revenue and refused to raise the rates to adequately maintain the system. So, with hat-in-hand the city fathers siezed upon an escape plan--sell the city's water works!
    Many of the other 8 counties were already receiving their water supply from the Charleston Treatment Plant. Those left were brought into the system by County Commissions and Public Service Districts selling their systems to WVAWC. Then, in it's brilliance, County Commissions entered into Public/Private Partnerships whereby county taxpayer money along with WVAWC in-kind contributions would extend water service to previous unserved rural areas making politicians golden in the eyes of those wanting a public water supply. It gets better, WVAWC then received 40 year tax waviers, meaning as a private company, water treatment facilities and distribution system is catagorized as real property in WV and WVAWC received 40 years with no property taxes.
    A recent example is the Town of Pratt. Days before this crises, they approached the Kanawha County Commission and WVAWC, with hat-in-hand about buying the Pratt Water System.
    If you are going to blame politicians and maybe your anger is properly directed, just direct it at the proper politicians-the City of Charleston and the nine County Commissioners.

  • Independent View

    As I looked at this article's photograph, what did I see but one of the biggest blowguts and Tinhorn politicians in the Kanawha Valley, Jim Caruthers. I thought that the voters of Putnam County had enough of this Charlatan and threw him out of office as a Putnam County Commissioner! But, no, now he's the mayor of Nitro??
    Those that believe that Mayor Caruthers attended the meeting to represent the residents of Nitro and "get answers", you were sadly mistaken. He was there because it was political theatre at its best and that's where he wants to be, squarely where the limelight will shine on him! What a sad, sad Baffoon!

    • Todd

      Jim Caruithers is not the mayor of Nitro.

  • M Davis

    Charleston Gazette quotes local leaders saying "stop talking about it" and remove the disaster photos from web sites. Great idea. Just ignore the problem and maybe it will go away. This is the GOP solution to governing.

    • Gen Kemp

      So, the local leaders who made those comments were GOP members? If so, who were they?

      • Jason412

        It was Herb Malone, president and CEO of Alabama Gulf Shores Convention and Visitors Bureau

        "When things are settled and the disaster no longer affects the region, Malone said CVBs and government officials have to "stop talking about it." Take down disaster photos from websites; don't bring it up unless asked about it. Move on."

        http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201402090100?page=2

        The key words being "when things are settled and the disaster no longer affects the region"

        M Davis your misinformation benefits no one.

  • George Six

    Jennifer, has anyone asked the WVAW if they had their carbon filters in service when the spill started? I believe I heard their CEO/president say on TV ,soon after the leak was detected, that WVAW put carbon filters in as soon as they knew about the leak. I'm confused. Shouldn't a carbon filtration system be an integral part of their system due to pulling water from the Elk River?

    Another item. Is anyone looking at the sedimentation in home water heaters for the source of continuous water odors? Even flushing an old water heater will not remove these sediments.

  • Marvin Vernatter

    These are things that I am confidant about, the MCHM will dissipate, the lawyers will make a lot of money, and some of the victims will be compensated. I also suspect that the FBI will likely stay on Barlow Drive and avoid Mingo County until at least after the election and maybe for a long time there after.

    Our economy has suffered a great blow. What will the water company do to help? That question leads us to the old story of wealth leaving the state to benefit others and not generating wealth here.

    I believe that a great lapse on the part of West Virginia’s government has allowed the wealth generated from 300,000 West Virginia Customers to be siphoned away to a European conglomerate.

    Wealth that could have been used to benefit the citizens of our state is not only crossing West Virginia’s border but leaving the country. Shame on you West Virginia Legislature and shame on you WV Public Service Commission.

  • Some Things Never Change

    I'd be asking myself if it's "safe" to live in Kanawha Valley - period. The chemical and coal companies have been polluting the air, water and soil for DECADES. There are unlined slurry ponds everywhere! The poisons do not go away - they seep into the soil and contaminate earth and water sources of all types. West Virginian's deserve clean and uncontaminated air, water and soil. Please do not ever give up your right to basic human necessities.

  • Kelly

    I actually agree with Brian. Just speak with any current or former restaurant kitchen employee about the unseen things that happen on a daily basis and you would likely not go out to eat anymore.

  • Medman

    Hey, people need to accept that this was a political event and not a real hearing to present evidence and assign blame. That will come when the lawyers get hold of this bonanza. Just wait.

  • Brian

    What is safe water? How did regulators test for this chemical a year ago? The answer is 'the same way'! How many peanuts can fall into the same river and be safe for citizens with allergies to such? Why can't anyone say it is safe? Because nobody can agree how you measure 'safe' and WV citizens are highlighting their ignorance of science. Now that politicians are getting more involved, the level of scientific ignorance will be be highlighted to yet more embarrassing levels .