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Water Company Runs Ad Declaring Water Safe; Several Others, Including Rockefeller, Disagree

Reported: Feb. 10, 2014 8:40 AM EST
Updated: Feb. 10, 2014 10:00 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Jeff Morris) -- West Virginia American Water Co. published a full-page advertisement, citing experts who said the water is safe, but a U.S. senator and the head of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board sharply disagree with that assessment.

“The conclusion that the water is now safe for all uses came from experts at the CDC, with concurrence from the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health and the federal EPA,” the advertisement in the Sunday Gazette-Mail said. “According to the CDC, the 1 part per million was calculated conservatively using multiple safety factors. This level was achieved throughout the distribution system several weeks ago, and before the do-not-use was lifted.

“In fact, Dr. Tanja Popovic, the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Environmental Health’s representative at Governor Tomblin’s Feb. 5 news conference stated – ‘With all of the scientific evidence we have and with everything that numerous people have worked on so far, I can say you can use your water however you like.’ ”

But others, including U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., told Eyewitness News they do not believe the water is safe.

“They can say it’s not hazardous or this or that, but it doesn’t mean anything,” he said.

Rockefeller is currently pressing for legislation that could prevent future incidents like the one in the Elk River from ever happening again, but, for now, he warns to be cautious when trusting what you are being told about the water you drink.

Rockefeller took issue with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control saying the water was “appropriate” for use, rather than “safe.”

“What does that mean? It means nothing. It means absolutely nothing," he said. "It means, 'It's up to you.' If I were told it was 'appropriate,' I just wouldn’t drink.”

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is still actively investigating the site, after arriving in West Virginia at Rockefeller's request. Board Chairman and Chief Executive Rafael Moure-Eraso gave an update in an interview on Thursday.

“We are interviewing all the workers to track down how and when this happened, and government officials and people at the water company, to find out how they do their work and how it relates to the presence of chemicals in the neighborhood,” he said.

Moure-Eraso is also quick to point out that there should be absolutely no traces of MCHM in potable water.

“There should be no MCHM in drinking water . . . period,” he said. “There is no safe level.”

-WV American Water advertisement printed in newspaper.



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