CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Mountaineer Gas announced that it has filed a civil action suit against West Virginia American Water Company (WVAW).
The gas company released a statement Tuesday afternoon, saying the gas outage which followed the water main break that occurred on Charleston’s West Side of the City of Charleston is solely the fault of the water company, not Mountaineer.
“We firmly believe the interruption of gas service to our customers is a direct result of the failure of the West Virginia American Water Company facilities, and we feel West Virginia American Water
should be responsible for the significant costs incurred by Mountaineer,” said Senior Vice President Moses Skaff.
At least 1,100 people on the city’s West Side were without gas service for around two weeks. The water main break occurred on Nov. 10 and filled over 40 miles worth of gas lines with water.
Skaff said WVAW should be the one responsible for the costs that came due to the outage. The lawsuit also claims that West Virginia American Water should pay all expenses centered around the civil actions filed.
“The company has worked around the clock to minimize the interruption in service and endeavored to keep lines of communication with local officials and customers open, and the company will continue
to do so,” Skaff said. “However, due to the pending legal proceedings Mountaineer will focus communications on ongoing developments rather than the matters at issue in the court actions.”
West Virginia American Water spokesperson Megan Hannah responded to the lawsuit Tuesday, saying the water company, “continues to reiterate that any speculation on the cause of its water main break or the Mountaineer Gas outage is premature until an investigation is complete. The company will fully cooperate with the Public Service Commission on its general investigation to determine the cause.”
The state Public Service Commission said it would conduct an investigation into the water main rupture and gas outage.
Meanwhile, the WVAW said it is working with each of their customers on the West Side who were affected by the incident and are offering an opportunity for those people to seek claims for their losses “for annoyance, inconvenience and out-of-pocket expenses.” Reimbursements are possible for qualifying customers up to $2,000 per household.
WVAW is expected to send out postcards this week to its customers with information on how to make those claims. Affected residents can process claims in person or by calling 1-800-243-2490 to speak with a dedicated claims intake representative. The water company says that people should mention that they are calling in relation to the Mountaineer Gas outage and be ready to provide necessary information.
Customers can also visit the West Virginia American Water office, located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Charleston to speak with a claims handler from December 11 through December 15. Proper verification documents are also needed when contacting a claims handler or when visiting the West Virginia American Water office.
Once approved, customers can expect to receive a check in the mail.
Gov. Jim Justice said he’s glad that the water company is stepping up to assist the people on Charleston’s West Side.
“They’re late to the party but they are coming to the party,” said Justice.
Gov. Justice spoke to the matter during his media briefing on Tuesday. He further said that the evidence that he sees leads him to believe that the outage was caused by the water main break.
“I’ve only said what I think is governed by the evidence and the evidence was that this was caused by a blowout in a main American water line and then it blew up the gas line,” he said.
More information on the claims process can be found at westvirginiaamwater.com/outageclaims.