Tomblin to ask for CDC to visit WV for clarity on water crisis - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

LATEST: Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin confirms CDC, EPA will visit WV for clarity on water crisis

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UPDATE, 7:16 p.m. Feb. 4:

Three experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will head to West Virginia Wednesday, according to a spokesperson for the CDC. Spokesman Tom Skinner said the three representatives can be described as "doctors and experts." One hails from the CDC Office of the Director, while the others have worked with the CDC's National Center for Environmental Health.

No word yet on the identities of those representing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


UPDATE, 5:49 p.m. Feb. 4:

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin confirmed, through a tweet, that he will host representatives from both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency in Charleston Feb. 5.


UPDATE, 4:51 p.m. Feb. 3:

The Environmental Protection Agency indicated through a statement that it still has a coordinator at Freedom Industries, and its water experts provided "technical assistance" with creating the flushing procedures issued by West Virginia American Water.

The EPA also said in its statement that chemists and lab managers from nine organizations, including EPA, are working collaboratively to share information and analytical data about MCHM and PPH. Those organizations include the National Guard, West Virginia American Water, American Water Research, REI Consulting, DuPont Inc., Dow Inc., Matric Inc., ATSDR and EPA.

The group is looking to identify analytical techniques that will allow for lower detection limits for the single compounds — MCHM and PPH — in water. According to the statement, the goal of the lower detection limits will be to increase the capacity of laboratories to detect MCHM and PPH in water "at orders of magnitude below the health risk levels."


UPDATE 3:02 p.m., Feb. 3:

A public information officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Feb. 3 the CDC is planning to send a team with members from both the CDC and the Environmental Protection Agency to West Virginia as soon as Feb. 4 to work with state officials and to assess what other support may be needed.

The spokesperson said there was a phone call about the situation in West Virginia at about noon Feb. 3, and the state requested "additional assistance."

The spokesperson said a three-member team was dispatched to West Virginia Jan. 16 at the request of the state health department. That spokesperson said the team was looking primarily at medical records to get a better understanding of the health impact of the spill as well as to assess the disaster epidemiology capabilities of the state health department.

The team reviewed the records of the people who were admitted to area hospitals, and after compiling all the data, which can sometimes take months, the CDC will issue a trip report to the state health department, which would then be the body responsible for releasing the information.


Original Story, 10 a.m. Feb. 2:

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says he's frustrated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for not offering more help to the Mountain State in light of the Jan. 9 chemical spill in the Elk River, but Tomblin also admitted he hadn't asked.

Tomblin spoke with West Virginia Media Holdings CEO Bray Cary Feb. 2 as part of the statewide weekend affairs show "The State Journal's Decision Makers," and Tomblin said he planned to ask the CDC to visit West Virginia.

"That was very frustrating in dealing with the CDC and trying to get updates on what this chemical means, what the results of drinking or long-term effects, there's all those questions," Tomblin said. "Since this was not a hazardous material, they had done very little research on it."

Tomblin said the CDC may have been struggling, just as the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health had been trying to come up with protocols for testing the chemical, but the Bureau of Public Health has been in contact with the CDC "on a daily basis."

"I just think, had this same chemical occurred someplace else … I'm not here to defend CDC, I've been very frustrated with them because they have not offered any more help than what they have," Tomblin said. "Have I made a formal request to come in? No, but they were in here a week ago.

"I'd be happy to. In order to restore the confidence, we do need an independent or an outside group to come in and look at all the tests that have been taken and the results to be able to restore people's confidence in the water system."

Dr. Letitia Tierney, commissioner of the Bureau of Public Health and the State Health Officer, also spoke with Cary Feb. 2 and said she can't give specific names of experts at the CDC or the National Institute of Health, but she is drinking the tap water.

Tierney, who has been in her position since Nov. 1, 2013, said she wants the public to understand that her family lives in Charleston and she meant the oath she took as a physician to do no harm.

"There are many, many experts, and I know everybody wants names, but you have to understand the partners that we're working with, for example, the experts from the CDC, the experts from the National Institute of Health, these people don't generally want the publicity and it's not that they're not experts in their field, but they let their institution pretty much have the credit," Tierney said. "I'm talking to the experts at the CDC; when these experts agreed to talk to us, they requested that their names not be given."

Tierney said she would ask those experts if she can use their names.

"We don't know what the long-term effects are, and that's part of our mission at public health, is to follow this, so we do this every day," she said. "I think we've been really honest about this — there really are no long-term studies available, so we have to start."

Tierney said the state is continuing to distribute water because the public has expressed its concern.

"I think we're giving out the water because we are hearing people, that they are concerned and that they don't have confidence and so we understand that and we appreciate that," she said. "I've been saying all along, water is fundamental and I understand that and I understand people's fears."