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W. Va. Gov. refuses further water testing, despite one in five residents reporting health issues following Jan. chemical leak

Chemical leak

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(NaturalNews) Despite the fact that only 36 percent of Kanawha County residents are drinking tap water after at least 5,000 gallons of crude MCHM leaked into West Virginia's water supply last January, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin refuses to approve additional testing of home tap water.

Even though state experts highly recommended performing a large-scale investigation to determine if any MCHM remained in home plumbing systems, the governor said he would only consider spending the money if conclusive studies prove that there are specific long-term health effects associated with exposure to the chemical.

Gov. Tomblin, however, does support animal testing, adding that he's requested the federal government to conduct animal-exposure studies to discover potential health affects related to the foaming agent used to clean coal, as reported by The Charleston Gazette.

Crude MCHM, or 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, leaked through a 1-inch hole in a water storage tank at the Freedom Industries plant, a company responsible for storing the foaming agent. The chemical then made its way into the region's Elk River, subsequently contaminating the water supply for nine different counties and affecting over 300,000 people.

CDC report confirms speculations about health affects related to chemical leak

Not only did the leak inflict a $61 million hit to the area's economy, but residents were left without water for nearly two weeks. Even today, the businesses that managed to survive are still serving bottled water, a costly effort in addition to other unforeseen damages related to the leak.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has finally released their report confirming that more than one-fifth of households surveyed in Kanawha Valley reported experiencing health complications due to contaminated water exposure.

The CDC's 66-page report detailed interviews of 171 households in which some residents complained of rashes and skin irritation, respiratory illnesses, nausea and diarrhea.

The report states that at least 21.7 percent of households complained of health complications after the leak, and more than half feel that the tap water is still unsafe.

The director of the Department of Health and Human Resources (HHR) said the CDC's report "further supports the need for additional studies to determine the long-term effects of MCHM on humans."

Recommendations from the report include for the state to "increase community education on current water safety to help alleviate consumer concerns."

Water testing expensive; state can't afford it

Gov. Tomblin said work conducted initially by the West Virginia Testing Assessment Project (WVTAP), which included extensive water testing in 10 homes, cost the state $750,000.

WVTAP outlined a project to test more than 700 homes to help "increase confidence" in the water supply but quoted $3 million for the work. The company was apparently hired without any bidding, because it was brought in during a state of emergency; it's unclear why lower bids aren't being explored.

In April, the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department conducted a randomized phone survey asking about 500 people questions about the leak.

Resident's frustration and growing distrust for local, state and federal government was transparent in the results; in fact, 38 percent of them gave the West Virginia American Water company, and the government, an "F" in trustworthiness.

Government accountability an oxymoron

Gov. Tomblin told reporters that he couldn't think of anything that his administration did wrong or even anything that they could've done differently.

Apparently, prioritizing proper regulation ahead of business owners' relationships with city officials was not an option.

After all, one of Freedom Industries' owners, Carl Lemley Kennedy II, was a two-time convicted felon connected to the removal of then-Charleston-Mayor Mike Roark in which they were both sentenced to federal prison for cocaine.

Kennedy was also later charged with tax evasion and refusing to pay employees' withholdings while working as the accountant at Freedom Industries, instead depositing would-be tax monies into his personal account.

He was sentenced to three years but had it cut nearly in half after he agreed to act as an informant for the Feds, which included wearing a wire to help make "controlled cocaine buys" with a former business associate, as reported previously by Natural News.

However, none of these revelations have been included in any of the Governor's press releases; instead, as usual, all accountability is denied, leaving the people left to pay for their own victimization.

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