Congresswoman hopes to get answers during water hearing

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Second District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) wants some answers and she says she intends to get some during a U.S. House field hearing set for Monday in Charleston into the chemical leak that contaminated water for 100,000 customers of West Virginia American Water Company.

Capito and several members of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold the hearing at the Kanawha County Courthouse. It gets underway at 9 a.m.

The congresswoman said she’s not happy with how the entire situation has been handled

“There’s no certainty. We don’t know exactly what happened. We don’t know what the water company’s reaction was clear enough,” stressed Capito. “And I don’t think we know exactly, from the CDC standpoint, whether our water is 100 percent okay or is it 80 percent or for a certain population and how do you make those calculations?”

Representatives of West Virginia American Water will be on hand for the hearing as will those with the state Department of Environmental Protection, the Chemical Safety Board and local first responders. Capito said officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Freedom Industries declined an invitation to speak at the hearing.

“Boy, I’d love to have [Freedom] on the hot seat to ask them a lot of questions,” said Capito.

No one has heard anything from Freedom since the company held a brief news conference outside their gates the day after the spill was reported.

Capito said there’s not enough information out there as to what actually happened and, when people ask questions, they’re getting the run around. Capito stressed it’s happened to her as well.

She and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) sent a letter to the CDC weeks ago. They wanted to know why the CDC gave the all clear to drink the water and then, two days later, cautioned pregnant women to continue drinking bottled water. Capito said they still haven’t gotten a response.

The congresswoman knows she’s not going to get all the answers during one hearing, but she hopes to get some key information.

“Right now the main question is, is the water safe, is it safe to drink and why are we still having these pockets of odors and how long can we expect it, how long until we get rid of it? Those are the kinds of questions I think people want answered today,” she said.

The hearing is open to the public and will be held in the ceremonial courtroom at the Kanawha County Courthouse.

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