CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The state Public Service Commission has launched a general investigation into the response of West Virginia American Water Company following the Jan. 9 chemical spill at Freedom Industries just up the Elk River from the company’s Kanawha Valley Plant in Charleston. The spill caused a Do Not Use water order for residents in parts of nine counties.
In its announcement the PSC detailed what it will be looking for:
“The focus of the investigation will be whether, at the time of and under the circumstances that existed with the spill, the actions of WVAWC in reacting to the spill and the presence of MCHM in its raw water or finished water supply constitute unreasonable or inadequate practices, acts or services as provided for in State Law. Included in the information WVAWC is ordered to provide to the Commission is a chronological description of actions taken by the company beginning when any employee, representative of its parent company or service company became aware of the spill; locations and measurements of MCHM discovered in the water; the process and factors used to decide whether to close the intake structure at its Charleston water treatment facility, including which, if any, outside agencies were consulted and who ultimately made the decision regarding the continued intake of raw water from the Elk River; and a description of alternatives for water treatment or alternative or supplemental sources of treated or finished water were considered by WVAWC after it became aware of the spill.”
The order set a deadline for June 25 for those parties that are interested in intervening in the case. An evidentiary hearing is set for Oct. 7-9.
The PSC also said developing water quality standards is up to the state DHHR and will not be part of the investigation.