Responding to the Freedom Industries chemical spill
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:
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.