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DC Water Keeps Dangerous Spill Secret

AFGE Local 631 shares the following alert:   

Sometime on the afternoon of Friday, Aug. 20, there was a methanol spill in the methanol building at the Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant in Washington, DC. The methanol spill could have caused a catastrophic explosion throughout the plant and beyond the Blue Plains facility.   

Plant workers at Blue Plains were put in danger because of unreported methanol spill.


It is our understanding that automatic shut-off valves did not work and this mechanical failure caused the underground and above-ground methanol tanks to fill and overflow.  If these mechanical failures are not fixed immediately, we will remain in continued danger of future spills. Methanol is highly flammable and combustible.    

The District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority did not follow safety protocols for hazardous chemical spills, including failing to call a Hazmat response team. DC Water did not take any precautions to warn employees of the dangerous spill.  In fact, the agency put water on the spill and attempted to cover it up by being silent. It was a concerned person who informed the union about this dangerous situation.    

Although it is required by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, DC Water did not inform AFGE Local 631 (which represents employees in the Blue Plains plant operations) of the methanol spill.  Once AFGE Local 631 union representatives became aware of the spill, they promptly contacted high-level managers and asked that they look into this matter and provide the union with status information.   

It appears that DC Water’s smoke screen about safety being paramount is more chatter than substance. Employees must be promptly notified of chemical spills that could affect their health and safety.

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