CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – A lawsuit has now been filed against Mountaineer Gas Company and West Virginia American Water Company regarding the gas crisis on Charleston’s West Side.
The law offices of Calwell Luce diTrapano, PLLC, and Forbes Law Offices, PLLC, say the suit was filed on behalf of the 1,100 West Side residents and businesses who were impacted by the outages. The problem began when the force of a high-pressure water main break pierced a main gas line on Friday, Nov. 10, flooding 46 miles of the gas lines with water.
Numerous West Side residents have been without a heat source since the incident, and some were also without water for a few days. Attorney Dante’ diTrapano, co-counsel, says the two companies should have taken more precautions to prevent the incident from happening.
“The presence of water in natural gas lines is dangerous and renders the lines unavailable for use, and hundreds of residents are suffering without heat during consecutive cold evenings,” said diTrapano. “West Virginia American Water knew or should have known that the high-pressure water main was prone to failure because of its construction, joints, layout, and usage characteristics and the lack of standard, required maintenance and repair. And Mountaineer Gas knew or should have known that West Virginia American Water has a history of poor maintenance and repair and catastrophic failure, and they failed to take necessary precautions to prevent the contamination of the gas lines with water.”
As of Wednesday morning, Nov. 15, Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin announced 200 customers on Charleston’s West Side have their natural gas service restored.
Mountaineer Gas has told 13 News that it will take three to four days to start restoration of natural gas services, and seven to ten days for full restoration.
They say a representative — in uniform, with an ID and in a Mountaineer Gas vehicle — will have to come into your residence to begin to restore gas services in three to four days. If you are not home, they will leave a note on your door to set up an appointment.
Anyone affected by this is being urged to not fix anything by yourself and to wait for a Mountaineer Gas official.
Attorney Jesse Forbes, co-counsel, says the colder weather adds to the urgency of the situation as residents need the natural gas to keep warm, cook and for other basic needs.
“A major outage such as this creates a dangerous situation for all those affected. With temperatures dropping, people need heat and basic services. There are children living here, a school is closed, and the elderly and those with health conditions are even more susceptible and need help,” said Forbes.
A class action lawsuit was also filed against the gas and water companies by Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee & Deitzler, PLLC. This one is to not allow the companies to seek a rate increase due to its own conduct.
Charleston Fire Department officials are saying it’s important to remember safety during such a stressful time.
The crisis has caused Mary C. Snow West Side Elementary School — which is only a few blocks away from the scene — to close for the rest of the week.
Students will have to log into Schoology each day for their assignments. Anyone who needs help with Schoology can go into the school from 10:30 a.m. to noon, or go to “Schoology office hours” from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. online. Lunches are also available to pick up between 10:30 a.m. and noon.
You can find a list of places to get food, water, toiletries and more by clicking here.