Letters to CDC Scientists Requested Concerning WV Water

Updated 12 weeks ago Special to HuntingtonNews.Net
  I'm writing to see if you would be willing to sign on to a letter from scientists and health professionals regarding the current water crisis after the Elk River chemical spill. I have a PDF here the letter for your review: http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/center-for-science-and-democracy/letter-to-epa-cdc-from-wv-scientists.pdf .  
        To say the least, there has been significant confusion and often contradictory information regarding the safety of the water supply. Part of the problem is that the EPA, CDC, and other government agencies have failed to make scientific experts available to the public and the press to share what is known and what is not known about the chemical that leaked into the river.  My colleague Gretchen Goldman has a blog post that details some of the concerns we have: http://blog.ucsusa.org/is-the-water-safe-the-west-virginia-chemical-spill-and-the-importance-of-scientists-speaking-to-the-media-380.        This ongoing situation allows us to demonstrate to federal officials that their decisions limiting the ability of government scientists to share their expertise with the public have significant real world consequences. After we send the letter to EPA and CDC officials and make it public, we will use it in follow-up meetings with agency staff.      It would be helpful if you sign on by tomorrow evening so that we may get the letter ready this week. To sign the letter, please email Danielle Fox at dfox@ucsusa.org with the following information as you would like to be listed:    FULL NAME: TITLE, IF APPLICABLE:  DEPARTMENT, IF APPLICABLE:  INSTITUTION (for identification purposes only):  CITY:  ZIP CODE: FIELD OF STUDY:  HIGHEST DEGREE ACHIEVED:

  Also, please feel free to send this letter on to colleagues. The letter is open for signature by scientists and health professionals with or working towards advanced degrees in their fields who live or work in West Virginia.    JEREMY RICHARDSON  
Editor's Note: The letter to Dr. Thomas Frieder can be downloaded via PDF attachment. A portion of the letter reads:   January 24, 2014
Dr. Thomas Frieden
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30333
The Honorable Gina McCarthy
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460
Dear Director Frieden and Administrator McCarthy:
As West Virginia scientists and health professionals, we are writing to urge you to remove barriers that
prevent agency scientists from sharing their expertise with the public.

On January 9, an unknown amount of 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol leaked from tanks at a Freedom
Industries facility into the Elk River, just upstream from a treatment plant that provides water for 300,000
West Virginians. Since then, our communities have suffered with inadequate, and sometimes conflicting,
information about both long term and short term risks of exposure to the chemical.1

Part of the problem is that too little is known about this (and many other) chemicals that are used in
industrial processes. Tens of thousands of chemicals in use today have never been evaluated by the EPA
or any other government agency.2

That said, your agencies have repeatedly failed to adequately respond to questions from the public and the
press.3 We deserve to be told what is known--and what is not known-- about the risks the chemical poses
to human health as the disaster unfolds. If the government had been more forthcoming about what is not
known about the leaked chemicals, citizens and local officials would have been able to make better
choices about the actions needed to protect their families and communities. Some may have chosen to
leave the area, others to make longer-term arrangements for alternative sources of water. Only
an informed citizenry can make informed choices.

Unfortunately, government scientists have been notably absent from the public discussion. Both the
Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention refused repeated
interview requests for nearly a week.4 Further, CDC officials consistently failed to explain how the
agency had arrived at a one-part-per-million threshold for the water to be considered safe.5 This is
especially troubling in light of recent commitments by both of your agencies to transparency and
accountability through developing and fully implementing policies that support scientific integrity and
openness. Lack of access to government
  1. LETTER TO CDC (85.44 KB)
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