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D.C. WASA Questioned Over Response To Spill

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By Jessica Jordan

Union employees at the Blue Plains Wastewater treatment facility say the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority failed to alert them about a methanol spill at the plant.

Now the union wants to know why the spill wasn't reported.

Employees say a mechanical failure in the plant's automatic shut off valves caused methanol tanks to fill and overflow on August 20th.

Some workers say D.C. Water failed to call out a hazmat team or alert employees of safety protocols.

Instead, they say the agency remedied the problem by putting water on the spill.

That's when employees called their union -- AFGE President Barbara Milton got the calls.

"It is a dangerous place to work, and if you have a safety issue you must follow protocols," Milton says. "If they aren't following safety protocols -- we are in jeopardy if something else happens."

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 didn't 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.

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