Feds Commit to Health Studies on MCHM Spill in Charleston

By: The Associated Press, Anna Baxter Email
By: The Associated Press, Anna Baxter Email

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP & WSAZ) -- Federal health officials will conduct more animal studies on the chemicals that spilled into West Virginia's largest drinking water supply in January.

Kanawha County health officer Dr. Rahul Gupta says the National Toxicology Program will spend $750,000 to $1.2 million on studies.

He says they'll take up to a year to complete, and will address health implications on humans of the spilled chemical mixture.

The federal commitment came Wednesday during a meeting in Sen. Joe Manchin's Washington, D.C., office. Federal, state and county officials attended.

“I am so pleased to announce that a clear partnership has been formed today in Washington, D.C. between the federal and state agencies who are on the front lines of ensuring West Virginia’s water supply is without a shadow of a doubt safe to use and drink,” Senator Joe Manchin said. “We have all agreed that it is necessary to conduct additional scientific testing to rebuild West Virginians’ confidence that the water they use and drink every day is safe for themselves and their children, and to ensure there is a clear understanding of any potential long-term health impacts. These tests should be completed within a year, at which point we will come together to assess the findings and determine what additional steps we will need to take. In the meantime, I thank the CDC, the National Institutes of Health, Secretary Bowling, Dr. Tierney, and Dr. Gupta for coming together to continue to monitor the health effects of exposed West Virginians. I am very confident we are moving in the right direction and I am truly grateful all relevant parties came to the table today.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also committed to visit West Virginia within the next two months to start crafting a long-term health monitoring program.

"My administration, particularly DHHR Secretary Karen Bowling, has worked with local, state and federal partners to secure funding for additional MCHM tests and long-term medical surveillance to assess any potential health implications for our residents as a result of the Jan. 9 Elk River chemical spill. We appreciate the assistance of the CDC and NIH and look forward to moving forward with the process," said Governor Tomblin.

The spill spurred a tap-water ban for 300,000 people for days.

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