Real Life Example of Applying Business Continuity Planning: West Virginia Chemical Spill

  • January 17, 2014
  • Andrea Tolentino

Real Life Example of Applying Business Continuity Planning: West Virginia Chemical Spill

What once was thought to be a small risk (chemicals leaking into a water supply) was found out this past week to be a huge disaster. Amazingly, last week chemicals that leaked were stored in storage tanks very close to the Elk River at Freedom Industries storage facility in Charleston, West Virginia.

With over 300,000 people going without tap water for at least seven days, we can see this is a substantial business continuity and health issue that needs to be addressed. As we now see, with West Virginia, chemicals leaking into water supplies can require extensive implementations of continuity and recovery strategies.

During this disaster, most schools and daycare centers have been closed for more than a few days. Almost all restaurants and bars closed, along with any facilities providing water.

The following are some BC elements that would be applied in this disaster situation:

  • Cross-trained staff documented for job processes when employees were not able to make it work
  • Alternate work location defined when relocation was necessary
  • Assessment of critical processes in a BIA to structure the critical processes to continue
  • Defined IT capabilities for working from home or alternate locations
  • Use of damage assessment, skill set, event log, and other critical BC driven forms
  • Notification system to alert employees of disaster and continued status of outage

This recent news event just shows the value of business continuity planning in today’s world.