CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The top health officer in Kanawha and Putnam counties said Wednesday he is not reassured by what is happening in the wake of a major chemical spill that contaminated the drinking water for 300,000 people.
“It’s not comforting when we learn 12 days after a major chemical leak into our drinking water that there is another chemical,” said Dr. Raul Gupta, director of the Kanawha-Charleston and Putnam County health departments. “This is not the day after, it’s not the week after, this is 12 days after. This is not reassuring. This frustrates even the best of us.”
Freedom Industries revealed Tuesday, more than a week after the initial chemical spill, MCHM wasn’t the only chemical that escaped from it storage tank into the Elk River above the West Virginia American Water treatment plant. The chemical PPH was also in the tank.
“As a health officer I have still not been formally informed about this second chemical through proper authorities,” Gupta said. “We don’t know a lot about this chemical either, so that’s a concern. We have a lot of questions at this point.”
Gupta said he was frustrated and angry about the entire response. He said it’s understandable why so many are placing little faith in the condition of their drinking water.
“I am not seeing the level of investigatory work that needs to go in and the level at which the public needs to be informed and kept up to date with a lot of this stuff,” he said. “If you’re skeptical and you are frustrated, we share that frustration.”