Charleston officials feel left in dark by Wacker leaders

By SARALYN NORKUS Staff Writer
Posted 9/13/17

The events at Wacker Polysilicon on Sept. 7 provided members of the Charleston City Commission with plenty to discuss Tuesday night at their monthly meeting.

When the explosion and subsequent …

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Charleston officials feel left in dark by Wacker leaders

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The events at Wacker Polysilicon on Sept. 7 provided members of the Charleston City Commission with plenty to discuss Tuesday night at their monthly meeting.

When the explosion and subsequent events occurred, the Charleston city officials were reportedly kept in the dark.

“No official in Charleston was notified,” Mayor Walter Goode declared during the meeting.

“I was notified by a person in Cleveland — a friend of mine said there was an explosion at Wacker. As a matter of fact, my son and I were at the service station and heard the blast and didn’t know what it was. We got home and my wife said it shook the house.”

The city recorder was the first to learn of the chemical release.

“This is too frequent — they had three incidents in two weeks,” Goode stated.

Commissioner Donna McDermott voiced her concerns on how the city is virtually neighbors to multiple chemical plants, and questioned if there are better safety measures that could be put in place.

One of McDermott’s ideas was to find out if there is a grant in existence to help provide Charleston residents with masks. She also proposed speaking to companies like Wacker and Olin to see if they would consider providing masks for residents within two miles of the plants.

“I think that they need to have a little more caution for the community than they’ve had,” McDermott stated.

“You listen to the news and they (Wacker) aren’t telling us much.”

Commissioner Frankie McCartney referenced a Change.org petition that has been circulating online asking for Wacker to provide masks for students and faculty at Walker Valley High School. The petition, which can be found at https://www.change.org/p/law-makers-gas-masks-given-to-walker-valley-high-school, had reached 960 signatures and 1,540 supporters as of press time.

There was no one present from Wacker or the Bradley County Emergency Management Agency to answer any questions or address the commissions concerns at Tuesday’s meeting.

Other Charleston news:

• Darlene Goins reported that the Cowpea Festival was “the most successful ever.” She estimated that attendance had at least doubled and that more parking solutions would be addressed for next year.

• The beer board recommended that a beer license be granted to a new tobacco/beer store on Hiwassee Street. It will open at the end of the month or beginning of October.

• McCartney reported that the USDA rural development department might be able to provide the city with a matching grant to go toward the purchase of a tractor.

• McDermott informed the commission that the recreation board will meet tonight at 6 p.m. at city hall to discuss plans for the Charleston Fall Festival.

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