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!”