WVU Tech to keep campus closed until Monday
Samuel Speciale, Charleston Daily Mail
Water services in Montgomery were fully restored Wednesday afternoon, but West Virginia University Institute of Technology officials have decided not to reopen campus to students until a boil advisory is lifted.
The campus has been closed since 5 p.m. Tuesday when school officials canceled classes for the week in response to the nearby derailment of a CSX train carrying Bakken crude oil.
The small campus is tucked into the Montgomery hillside just miles away from Mount Carbon, Fayette County where more than 20 derailed tankers leaked oil into the Kanawha River near the city’s water intakes.
While initial water tests have come back clear of contaminates and city residents have been given the OK to use water, a school spokeswoman said most students do not have a way to boil water for safe consumption in their dorm rooms.
“For that reason, we will keep the campus closed until this weekend,” said university spokeswoman Jennifer Wood.
Because there is limited access to water on campus, university officials also chose to move students to a residence hall at the former Mountain State University campus in Beckley.
Wood said CSX helped the school charter buses to transport 180 students. Others, who live close enough to drive home, went back to their families. About 1,200 students attend WVU Tech.
The school initially arranged to also use beds in the Beckley Marriott Courtyard as overflow, but Wood said the space in the residence hall ended up being sufficient.
University officials made the call to shut down campus hours before West Virginia American Water reopened its intakes in Montgomery. Wood said school officials decided to move forward with the evacuation because they knew the boil advisory was coming and transportation was already organized. She also said there is work that needs done in the dining halls to make sure water and ice are safe.
While the situation isn’t ideal, Wood said the WVU Tech community was quick to respond and that students and teachers have been understanding and patient.
They’ve also been cooperative with the city, which, as of Tuesday, was overrun with state and federal agencies moving in heavy machinery to being cleaning up the train wreckage.
Because the derailment directly affected the WVU Tech community, students were quick to help distribute bottled water and other aid Tuesday when water was still shut off throughout the area.
Members of the school’s [Phi] Kappa Tau fraternity helped unload and distribute cases of bottled water at Montgomery’s city hall. Wood said other students volunteered their services to the fire department.
“You’ll see a lot of that happening,” Wood said. “I don’t know all the details of who was doing what, but its common for our student body to pitch in and help the community in times of need. It’s part of the campus culture.”
Students will be instructed when they can return to campus, and classes will resume Monday at 8 a.m.
See the original story from the Charleston Daily Mail.