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D.C. Union Looking For Answers On Methanol Spill

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By Jessica Jordan

Union employees at a D.C. wastewater treatment plant say D.C. Water and Sewer officials are trying to cover up a methanol spill that could still be putting them at risk.

Employees at the Blue Plains Wastewater treatment facility say a mechanical failure in the plant's automatic shut off valves caused a methanol spill on August 20th. Some workers say D.C. Water and Sewer Authority failed to call out a hazmat team or notify employees of safety protocols, that's when they reported the incident to the American Federation of Government Employees.

Vice President of the American Federation of Government Employees Dwight Bowman says the union is still trying to get answers from D.C. Water.

"This puts us on high alert. Let's say somebody inhaled some of these fumes. Just because something doesn't happen immediately doesn't mean that something couldn't happen later on," Bowman says.

Bowman says the Collective Bargaining agreement between AFGE and D.C. Water requires the city to report health and safety issues to the union.

In a written statement, D.C. Water calls the spill "minor" and says it notified the city's department of the environment as required. The agency says it didn't notify the union because it did not consider the event an immediate health or safety threat. Officials say they're currently conducting a mechanical investigation, along with a review of the safety and emergency response taken by authority staff.

AFGE staff say they need more information about the spill so that they can alert union management working at the plant.

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