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Town Hall Triggers Heated Debates On Water Crisis

Reported: Feb. 3, 2014 11:32 PM EST
Updated: Feb. 4, 2014 9:24 AM EST

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. (Stefano DiPietrantonio) – We witnessed plenty of outrage at the Town Hall meeting we organized and aired on WCHS-TV last week. Another town hall meeting organized by Delegate Meshea Poore Monday night generated plenty of heat, at the First Baptist Church in downtown Charleston.

People still have so many unanswered questions, and while they said they appreciate our lawmakers working to make sure something like the chemical spill never happens again, they want to know what’s being done right now to help, while we’re still in a crisis.

"What people seem to fail to understand is, that we're still in the middle of a crisis!," said Kitty Dooley, who stepped up to the mic from the audience to air her concerns. Her rundown of the contract West Virginia American Water has with its customers, set the room on fire.

"All water furnished by a utility for domestic use shall, shall, be pure, wholesome, potable and in no way dangerous to the health of the consumer!," said Dooley. "Then why should I pay them one red cent?"

Another woman in the crowd asked how long West Virginia American Water would provide bottled water? Delegate Poore said she spoke with the company president.

“And he could not give me a timeline or state how long they would continue to do that, because they do believe the water is safe," said Poore, who then called for a show of hands.

"How many of you are using the water only to wash in?,” she asked the crowd, and got a few folks to raise their hands. ”How many of you are not using the water at all, for anything?," she asked and got just a few hands raised.

"Anybody who can tell you today it's 100-percent safe, is not telling you the truth.," said Dr. Rahul Gupta with the Health Department. He stressed that medical monitoring needs to begin now.

"I don't want any of my children to glow in the dark, any more than anybody in this room, this valley should have that happen," said Senate President Jeff Kessler, who added, he’s been showering in the water and drinking coffee made with tap water for more than a week now. "At this point, I'm not glowing in the dark," he said smiling.

Senator John Unger, brought up the cruise ship, which was has been in the news recently and plagued with the Norovirus, which has triggered a national outrage, basically over a stomach flu.

"All of the sudden they pull to the shore and the CDC, the NIH, and everybody else comes storming in, they start testing the water, they quarantine them, they start examining them, but when 300-thousand people get poisoned, where are they? Where are they?," asked Unger angrily.

You’ll recall, Unger drafted Senate Bill 373, which has passed the Senate and is moving through the House right now. It will likely undergo revisions. Delegate Poore joked the water crisis is making her “live” her last name, what with constantly buying bottled water and using it for everything. But she vowed, she and other lawmakers, will work to keep it coming for as long as they can, until everyone believes they can trust the tap water, is indeed, safe.

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