Last week, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced the coordination between federal and state agencies to conduct additional scientific testing of the chemicals spilled from the Freedom Industries plant on January 9, 2014.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Toxicology Program, and NIH’s National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences will work with state officials to design and conduct the testing, including bringing a team of experts to West Virginia. Senator Manchin hosted a meeting in his Washington, D.C. office with all contributing federal, state and local agencies.
Those in attendance include: Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Dr. John Bucher, Associate Director of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Toxicology Program; Dr. Robin Ikeda, Acting Director of the National Center for Environmental Health and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry; Mary Gant, program analyst at the NIH’s National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences; Secretary Karen Bowling, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources; Dr. Letitia Tierney, Commissioner of the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health and State Health Officer; Dr. Rahul Gupta, Health Officer and Executive Director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.
“I am so pleased to announce that a clear partnership has been formed today in Washington, D.C. between the federal and state agencies who are on the front lines of ensuring West Virginia’s water supply is without a shadow of a doubt safe to use and drink,” Senator Manchin said. “We have all agreed that it is necessary to conduct additional scientific testing to rebuild West Virginians’ confidence that the water they use and drink every day is safe for themselves and their children, and to ensure there is a clear understanding of any potential long-term health impacts. These tests should be completed within a year, at which point we will come together to assess the findings and determine what additional steps we will need to take. In the meantime, I thank the CDC, the National Institutes of Health, Secretary Bowling, Dr. Tierney, and Dr. Gupta for coming together to continue to monitor the health effects of exposed West Virginians. I am very confident we are moving in the right direction and I am truly grateful all relevant parties came to the table today.”
“My administration, particularly DHHR Secretary Karen Bowling, has worked with local, state and federal partners to secure funding for additional MCHM tests and long-term medical surveillance to assess any potential health implications for our residents as a result of the Jan. 9 Elk River chemical spill. We appreciate the assistance of the CDC and NIH and look forward to moving forward with the process,” said Governor Tomblin.
“I was excited to meet in Washington, D.C., this morning with Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Sen. Joe Manchin to discuss toxicological testing relating to the July 9 chemical spill,” Dr. Gupta said. “Dr. Frieden committed to providing further surveillance measures based on findings of toxicological testing. The National Institute of Health committed to these tests during this morning’s meeting. In addition, the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences also committed to continuing studies. After all these months, it’s positive we are moving forward, particularly with developing independent studies which will give our citizens more confidence in their outcomes. I am glad Karen Bowling, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources, and Dr. Letitia Tierney, state health officer, were present, so we can have a unified front moving forward to solve this problem. I am also grateful to Sen. Manchin and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin for being persistent in seeking broad-ranging national solutions to the chemical spill problem.”
(Fred Pace is the Editor for the Coal Valley News. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 304-369-1165, or on Twitter @fcpace62)