Monday, March 17, 2014

Local health dept. director in W.Va. fears long-term effects of chemical spill, wants testing

Dr. Rahul Gupta
The January chemical spill in West Virginia that dumped thousands of gallons of a coal cleaner into a major regional water supply, and a subsequent state investigation that found more than 1,600 chemical storage tanks in critical areas near water supplies, has raised concern in many states about the location of dangerous chemicals near drinking water. One person making his voice heard is Dr. Rahul Gupta, executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, who "criticized the lack of new scientific data produced in the nine weeks since the chemical spill," Marcus Constantino reports for the Charleston Daily Mail.

"The Freedom Industries chemical leak presents a unique challenge; more than 300,000 people may be affected by a chemical with little scientific data known about it, and a guaranteed funding source for long-term medical monitoring from the state or federal level is nowhere in sight," Constantino writes.

"To me, it is a moral imperative that we do conduct long-term monitoring in our population. There is no excuse for not doing it," Gupta told Constantino. "If there is even a small, remote chance that people could get sick in the future, that could be a much more expensive proposition because we could have prevented that from happening."

Gupta added, "This is so historic and unprecedented in the history of this nation, you have to wonder if there isn't a better way to do this type of work. . . . A lot of times I think if this happened in any other country, and it was a chemical exposure of some kind, wouldn't we be calling them and saying 'Hey, you need to do something to protect your people.' I think we would be the first ones to do that as a nation, to call on the other country to fix their issues." (Read more)

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