CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Representatives from two federal agencies are due in Charleston Wednesday in response to the Jan. 9 chemical leak and the nine-county water emergency that followed.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced Tuesday he’ll host representatives from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the federal EPA.
The visit will come a day after lawmakers criticized the federal government for not doing more in response to the emergency.
Senate Majority Leader John Unger, D-Berkeley, said Tuesday the Senate would consider a resolution Wednesday requesting immediate federal assistance. He said questions remain about the chemical Crude MCHM that leaked from the Freedom Industries tank. He said the state needs help.
“To figure out what this chemical is, what’s in the compound? Is there formaldehyde or isn’t there formaldehyde? Yes or no. We continue to get conflicting results,” Unger said.
The senator was critical of both President Barack Obama and the CDC during his remarks. He said he was disappointed the President didn’t mention the emergency in his State of the Union Address. He also wondered why the CDC spent more time recently addressing a virus on a cruise ship.
“Where are they?” Unger asked. “Where is the team this cruise ship had?”
The state has been working with the CDC since soon after the spill occurred into the Elk River. It was that agency that came up with the recommendation that anything less than 1 part-per-million of MCHM in the water supply was safe for consumption.
“Since January 9th, Gov. Tomblin has worked with our federal partners with the CDC, the EPA and our state agencies on this chemical spill,” Gov. Tomblin’s Communications Director Amy Shuler Goodwin said.
Del. Meesha Poore, D-Kanawha, called on her colleagues to unite during an emotional floor speech Tuesday.
“We’re in a crisis because people are still demanding water. They are still demanding bottled water,” Poore said. “Every year I sit on this floor and I ask you a question, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ And I tell you we are not only our brother’s keeper on this floor but we are the keepers of our brothers and sisters in this state.”
Goodwin said a full update is expected Wednesday afternoon.
“The governor and members of our state and national team will provide an update -in detail-on what we have accomplished, where we stand now, and what actions we are taking as we move forward,” she said.