CHARLESTON, W.V. – Senate Majority Leader John Unger (D-Berkeley) announced today he is sending a letter to the President of the United States and introducing a resolution expressing outrage with the federal response to the chemical spill last month, and requesting immediate assistance.
“Had this crisis happened anywhere else in the United States, I’m sure the CDC, FEMA, Army Corps of Engineers and every cabinet secretary would be playing a role in the clean-up and recovery,” says Unger. “I have no doubt that the chemicals that were released would have been analyzed immediately, and a plan for remediation, as well as a health assessment plan would have been developed and implemented. Also, people would continue to be provided clean water until this mess is cleaned up and there is definitive proof that the water is safe to drink.”
The chemical spill, originating from the property of Freedom Industries along the Elk River, caused a nine county State of Emergency and a Do Not Use water order for over 300,000 West Virginians.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 27 urges the President of the United States and Congress to protect the nation’s water; to establish provisions that will prevent chemical spills from ever happening here or anywhere else again; to direct Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to continue to provide water supplies in affected areas in West Virginia; to direct the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assemble a team to fully analyze the released chemicals and to determine the effects to human health and the environment from exposure to the chemicals from the date of the spill; and to direct the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to work with local health officials to diagnose and identify the present and future impacts on health due to exposure to these chemicals.
“If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere. Water is a basic, foundational need. We still have no idea how the chemicals break down and we have been given no guidance on the long-term impacts to our health.”
Majority Leader Unger says many West Virginians continue to be afraid to use the water and are incurring additional expenses, such as purchasing bottled water for their homes and businesses He says the federal government should be more concerned and involved.