WV American Water’s secrecy continues

Back in December, the Public Service Commission told WV American Water that it had redacted (made unavailable to the public) too much of the information that it had provided in the PSC’s investigation of the water company’s response to the Elk River leak. The Commission ordered WV American Water to try again, and submit new public versions of the documents with fewer redactions.

Here is the new public version of WV American Water’s Emergency Preparedness Manual.

One thing we do know now is how out-of-date this manual is. According to this document, Joe Manchin is Governor of West Virginia and Michael Shaw is on the Public Service Commission (he was replaced by Michael Albert in 2007).

The cover letter that WVAW’s lawyers submitted to the PSC helpfully explains their criteria for what they blacked out of the document:

the Company has retained many previous redactions, which generally involve process descriptions (how things are to be done), non-obvious actions and directives, descriptions of threats and other business/service interruption concerns, and titles or positions of actors with assigned responsibilities in certain situations.

In other words, anything one might want to know about how things were supposed to be handled in a crisis, and by whom, is still confidential. If you look at pp. 26-27 of the Emergency Preparedness Manual (dealing with “Contamination of Raw Water Supply”), you will see that they followed their guidelines quite well.

Throughout the PSC investigation, WV American Water has repeatedly hid behind homeland security as a rationale for its excessive secrecy. But their big security risk is something we already know: they have no back-up for their single intake.

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