Erin Scorns "Official" After Effects Explanation; Governor Responds

Updated 40 weeks ago Edited by Tony Rutherford from Multiple Reports

A saga on Appalachian perceived “powerlessness” and a swing at a Q and A from WV Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s office opens the season of criticism which follows near tragedy and tragedy.  Case in point --- the Charleston, WV spill of MCHM. But the governor has trumped the earlier Q and A. At a Monday Jan. 20 news conference, he told reporters that consumers should make their own decisions on water. "It's  your decision," the Governor said, telling consumers who are uncomfortable with the water status to "use bottled water."

His clarifications  follow comments by a nationally known advocate who suggested that an earlier direction downplayed skin irritations, which was issued after most official "don't drink the water" advisories faded amidst lingering questions. On Monday, the  WV American Water President took to television to drink a glass of tap water and discuss the matter at length.

In the Tomblin earlier Q & A which responded to "skin irritations," a public health representative advised:

“Some doctors have described it as a ‘solar burn’ which is similar to a sunburn. Basically, it's red skin. Everyone has different sensitivities and as we move through the flushing process, sediment has been stirred up from your hot water tank and the pipes.”

However, Erin Brockovich rapidly took issue with the attempt to downplay after effects by an “official” explanation, which may be more comforting than scientifically sound:

“To dismiss the people’s reactions, as nothing more than as sunburn is reckless,” Brockovich said in a post  on her Facebook page.  “We are not lab rats. You do not know nor should you try to convince the people that what they see, what they feel and what they experience isn't real, in order to cover your own (expletive)! How dismissive, and the people suffer because of agency and political decision that were inappropriate, which resulted in delivering them tainted water!”

Emma Fisher, writing in Salon.com, explained the “Thirsty in West Virginia” crisis as another example of “powerlessness”  is “subject to the mercy of entities that have more money than a little girl from Appalachia with a public education and a bleeding heart

Fisher continues, “Entities that don’t care whether you live or die – or you live with a malignant tumor or a rash or unstoppable diarrhea or a CPAP machine – as long as they benefit.  Entities that manipulate the powerless using methods that are buried so deep in our shared history that those who actively question, who scrape fingernails across chalkboards, are admonished for turning their backs on their brothers and sisters.”

Brockovich would be one of those scraping fingernails across chalkboards by flying into W.Va. helping empower those trampled for questioning and reassuring those who question that they are correct at least in the proposition that the  answer is “I don’t know yet,” rather than yes or no.

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