Local

Pa. American Water Points To Striking Workers For Open Hydrants

(Photo Credit:  KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Andy Sheehan Andy Sheehan
KDKA-TV Investigator Andy Sheehan began his broadcast journalism...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As the strike enters its fourth week, more than a dozen hydrants have been opened, and police warn that a loss of water pressure could put people in danger.

More than a dozen fire hydrants have been opened in Peters Township and Bethel Park in the past three weeks.

“We’ve probably had approximately seven such incidents,” Bethel Park Police Chief John Mackey said. “And then Wednesday night going into Thursday morning, we actually had four in one evening.”

No one knows for sure who’s doing the tampering, but the Pennsylvania American Water Company is pointing its finger at workers who claim the company locked them out three weeks ago.

“We have no concrete evidence that they are tampering with the hydrants,” Gary Lobaugh with PA American Water said. “We do, however, think it is a coincidence that this only began happening after they walked off the job on June 18.”

The idled workers who say that company is farming out their jobs to contractors deny any involvement.

“A lot of this stuff is just being overblown out of proportion,” worker Carl Zetler said. “I can’t really answer that too much because I know that I’m not involved, and I know a lot of my union brothers are not involved with that.”

But Bethel Park resident Susan Hollinshead woke up yesterday morning to find a hydrant opened, her lawn flooded and three inches of water in her basement. As a union supporter, she says she’d be disappointed if the workers were responsible.

“I don’t know why they’re on strike, I don’t know what’s going on,” she said. “I know that it’s just a minor annoyance to have the water come down our yard and into our basement.”

Chief Mackey says it’s more than nuisance.

“God forbid there’s a fire and the fire department has to respond, they get there, and there’s no water pressure because of fire hydrants that are left open,” he said.

This strike or lockout is now entering its fourth week, and the hope is that it will eventually be resolved without further involving law enforcement.

RELATED LINKS
Spotlight On Striking PAWC Workers After Fire Hydrants Opened (7/2/2014)
South Hills Water Line Break Complicated By PAWC Strike (6/20/2014)
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