Washington, D.C. – West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant testified at a U.S. Senate Hearing today regarding the ongoing water crisis in West Virginia.
Secretary Tennant used her Testimony before the Environment and Public Works Committee to continue her call for transparency and answers for West Virginia families still concerned about the safety of their drinking water. Tennant also urged the Committee to work with local health officials to support a long-term study on the health impacts of the chemical spill in West Virginia.
“West Virginians need answers now,” Secretary Tennant told the Committee. “People are fed up. They are angry, and they are scared. As the mother of an 11-year-old daughter living in Kanawha County, I share their concerns. As their Secretary of State, I demand answers, and I ask this Committee to help me get them.”
In January, Secretary Tennant called on the CDC to release the testing and methodology it used for determining what levels of MCHM are safe. Since last Friday, more than 1,200 West Virginians have signed onto a petition joining Secretary Tennant’s call for answers.
Secretary Tennant told the Committee that local health officials and members of the public should be involved in determining what standards are used when existing data is not sufficient – as was the case in West Virginia.
She pointed out that concern over the safety of the water is continuing to hurt businesses and workers already hit hard by the do-not-use order. Tenant said bringing in bottled water is costing our restaurants money and time that they should be spending growing their businesses and hiring new workers; concerns over public health and safety jeopardize the tourism, on which, West Virginia relies; and West Virginia’s ability to attract new businesses and jobs is weakened as long as people do not trust the water.
“Our economy cannot recover until we regain public trust and confidence in our water supply,” she said. “We need answers we can trust.”
Secretary Tennant urged the Committee to support a 10-year study to monitor the long-term health and well-being of community members affected by exposure to MCHM, proposed by Dr. Rahul Gupta, Executive Director at Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.
“I urge this Committee to work with my office, Dr. Gupta, the Health Department, and state and local officials to provide the resources we need to begin this study right away. As one father wrote to me last week, ‘we are accountable for our children’s health and future.’ We owe it to them to conduct this study.”
Complete text of Secretary Tennant’s Testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife can be viewed here.