KCHD enters into legal action from impact of chemical spill - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

KCHD enters into legal action from impact of chemical spill

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The Kanawha Charleston Health Department (KCHD) will be entering into legal action along with the city of Charleston in light of the Jan. 9 Elk River chemical spill.

Rahul Gupta, health officer and executive director, said April 8 the health department spent about $200,000 in ongoing efforts as a direct result of the chemical leak from the Freedom Industries' storage tank.

"As a public agency we have suffered as a consequence of the spill," Gupta said. "We were relying on the FEMA money – there are people who here who have spent hours and hours of their time."

The health department had put together a phone study with employees from the department as well as volunteers tasked with calling Kanawha County residents and asking questions relating to the spill.

Gupta said the study was conducted in a scientific manner.

"Sometimes it's a great thing because they respond to the phone call, sometimes it take a long time for that particular phone call," he said. "We're all doing this as a community coming together to solve community problems."

Gupta said they were asking questions including if the public relied on their information from public agencies as well as any physical impact on their families.

"We're trying to get our arms around all of that impact," Gupta said.

Brenda Isaac, president of the KCHD board, said it is important to hear from how the public feels and what happened to them as a result of the spill.

"We're coming together to see, what do we need to do to lessen the impact and how can we prevent it from happening again," Isaac said. "We are entering into legal action with the city of Charleston."

Isaac said the health department had expanded work hours for all employees, burdening them with extra travel and overtime they may not have been compensated for.

"We would also like to get access to funding, anything that may come down from national or state," Isaac added. "There needs to be some compensation."

The questions asked in the phone survey will be released the night of April 8, Gupta said.