Groups ask PSC to order WV American Water to actually answer questions in PSC investigation

Last week, all of the groups that have intervened in the Public Service Commission’s investigation of West Virginia American Water – Advocates for a Safe Water System, the WV Sustainable Business Council, and the Consumer Advocate Division (a state agency charged with representing residential ratepayers in Public Service Commission cases) – filed “motions to compel” with the Commission. As intervenors in the case, all of these groups have been engaged in the “discovery” process; intervenors are able to ask discovery questions of WV American Water to help the intervenors develop their own testimony that they will present to the Commission later this month. The questions, and WV American Water’s answers, are available on the PSC’s website: Advocates for a Safe Water System, WV Sustainable Business Council, and Consumer Advocate Division. WV American Water has objected to many of the questions asked and often provided limited answers.

Here are examples of questions to which WV American Water has objected and refused to answer:

  • “Please describe all activities undertaken by WVAW between January 1, 2010 and January 8, 2014 to identify and/or access potentially significant contaminant sources in the zone of critical concern of the Elk River drinking water intake.”
  • “Were MSDSs [Material Safety Date Sheets] for any known chemicals stored in any facility upstream from the WVAWC intake on file or maintained at the water treatment plant beforeJanuary 9, 2014?”
  • “Was an early warning monitoring system in place on or before January 9, 2014?”
  • “[P]lease state what steps or efforts, if any, WVAWC made to identify, assess and prepare to respond to the risk of a chemical contamination incident specifically from the Freedom Industries tank farm (formerly Pennzoil).”
  • “In the 24-hour period from 9 a.m., January 8, 2014 to 9 a.m, January 9, 2014, please state whether the Elk River treatment plant was fully staffed or whether it was at any time operating under any form of automated operator system permit. Please include title, duties and shift of employees on duty during this period.”
  • “Produce all documents in your possession on and before January 9, 2014, which relate to emergency or disaster planning for WVAWC.”
  • “Produce all agreements WVAWC had in place before January 9, 2014, with other agencies and organizations related to emergency or disaster response.”

 
Advocates for a Safe Water System, the WV Sustainable Business Council, and the Consumer Advocate Division have now filed separate motions to compel (here, here and here), asking the Commission to over-rule the water company’s objections and provide complete answers to some of the unanswered questions. There is no deadline by which the Commission has to rule on these motions.

As the Consumer Advocate Division stated:

[T]he facts in the public domain so far are that the Company took no steps to prepare for the possibility of a water crisis such as occurred on Jan. 9, 2014 and how to respond to same. None. This is what the CAD’s discovery requests are about. All we really have right now is Mr. McIntyre’s testimony that the Company thought its treatment processes could handle the spill. If the Company took no steps to investigate what major risks lay upstream and how to respond to a potential contamination event, then it should just say so and be done with it.

2 Comments

  1. […] « Groups ask PSC to order WV American Water to actually answer questions in PSC investigation […]

  2. […] we posted previously, the PSC’s Consumer Advocate, the WV Sustainable Business Council, and Advocates for a Safe […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>