Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The White House, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its administrator, Scott Pruitt, collectively conspired to dam publication of a federal well being examine on a nationwide water-contamination disaster, after a Trump administration aide warned it might set off a “public relations nightmare.”
The cover-up earlier this yr wasn’t beforehand disclosed by the federal authorities. It comes because the Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) was getting ready to publish its evaluation a couple of class of poisonous chemical compounds that contaminated water provides close to army bases, chemical crops and different websites from New York to Michigan to West Virginia.
The controversial chemical compounds the HHS examine have lengthy been utilized in merchandise like Teflon and fireplace preventing foam, and are contaminating water methods across the nation. Known as PFOA and PFOS, they’ve been linked with thyroid defects, issues in being pregnant and sure cancers, even at low ranges of publicity.
A authorities examine concluding the chemical compounds are extra harmful than beforehand thought may dramatically improve the price of clean-ups at websites like army bases and chemical manufacturing crops, and drive neighboring communities to pour cash into treating their consuming water provides.
The banned examine exhibits the chemical compounds endanger human well being at a far decrease stage than EPA beforehand referred to as protected, in response to the newly found emails. The emails painting a “brazenly political” response to the contamination disaster, mentioned Judith Enck, a former EPA official who handled the identical pollution throughout the Obama administration. “Scientists always debate each other, but under the law, ATSDR is the agency that’s supposed to make health recommendations,” she mentioned.
This did not matter to the White House, nevertheless. “The public, media, and Congressional reaction to these numbers is going to be huge,” mentioned one unidentified White House aide in an electronic mail forwarded on Jan. 30 by James Herz, a political appointee who oversees environmental points on the OMB. “The impact to EPA and (the Defense Department) is going to be extremely painful. We (DoD and EPA) cannot seem to get ATSDR to realize the potential public relations nightmare this is going to be.”
The draft examine stays unpublished to at the present time. ATSDR says it has no scheduled date to launch it for public remark.
Critics mentioned the delay exhibits the Trump administration is putting politics forward of the general public’s well being. They had feared would occur after company leaders like Pruitt began putting trade advocates accountable for points like chemical security.
Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) referred to as the delay “deeply troubling”, urging Pruitt and Donald Trump “to immediately release this important study.”
“Families who have been exposed to emerging contaminants in their drinking water have a right to know about any health impacts, and keeping such information from the public threatens the safety, health, and vitality of communities across our country,” mentioned Hassan.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a fellow New Hampshire Democrat, referred to as the delay “an egregious example of politics interfering with the public’s right to know. … (I)t’s unconscionable that even the existence of this study has been withheld until now.”
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