LETTER TO EDITOR: Complaints to the Governor about "inaction"

Updated 5 years ago Special to HuntingtonNews.Net

Dear Governor Tomlin:

I am one of your constituents whose life has been “turned upside down” by the catastrophic chemical contamination of the Kanawha Valley’s water supply of January 9, 2014.

While I see from recent news postings that you are proposing new legislation to prevent such future disasters, that is not enough, Sir. There are many people who are culpable in chemical spill that originated at the Freedom Industries site and those people need to be held accountable for their actions or in actions and they include:

• The senior management of Freedom Industries for failure to adequately maintain their storage facilities and their failure to promptly notify local officials of the spill as soon as they knew about it.

• The local and state officials responsible for not complying with the Community Right-to-Know provisions of the federal SARA Title III regulations that require local government to have emergency response plans in place for such emergencies as this based upon information in Tier II reports they receive from local industries.

• The local and state officials responsible for not promptly initiating an activation of the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) to immediately notify residents of the Kanawha River Valley of the chemical spill and immediate actions that those residents should have taken to protect the health and welfare of their families.

• The senior management of the WV American Water Company who allowed the continued pumping of contaminated water from the Elk River after they became aware of the spill, and thus allowed the contamination of the entire water supply distribution system that affected 300,000 West Virginians.

I feel strongly that you and your office owe it to the residents of the Kanawha River Valley, many of whom are still experiencing adverse effects on their health and daily activities, to initiate a high-level inquiry into the circumstances that led to this environmental disaster and the actions listed above. I further believe that you and your office must aggressively prosecute those responsible individuals to the fullest extent of the law.

Lastly, I feel that you and your office did not take an appropriate leadership role in the emergency management of this disaster that affected not only the health and welfare of 300,000 West Virginians, but which has also had an adverse impact on the local economy and the image of the entire state of West Virginia. You and your office should have been the authoritative “voice” that communicated timely and accurate information to the public, not the propaganda apparatus of the WV American Water Company.

As a 30+ year Fire and EMS service, and an experienced emergency manager, I’m confident that this disaster, and the many ways that it’s been mismanaged on all levels, will be used as a case study for how NOT to do it for many years to come. And that will just add “insult to the injury” for all people in the state of West Virginia.

Respectfully yours,
Robert P. Avsec
57 Presidio Place
Cross Lanes, WV 25313

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