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EPA, CDC sending chemical leak team back to W.Va.

By Ken Ward Jr.

Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Obama administration is sending a multi-agency team to West Virginia this week as public concerns mount about the state’s handling of last month’s chemical leak that contaminated drinking water supplies serving 300,000 residents.

Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be in Charleston on Wednesday at the request of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

The governor asked for additional federal assistance as residents express continued concerns about the safety of their water and about the lack of clear information from state public health officials.

“CDC has a long pattern of going where we’re invited to help on health issues,” said CDC spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds. “We’ve been invited, and we’re going.”

EPA officials did not immediately comment on the trip.

Both the CDC and the EPA have had staff members in West Virginia for various periods of time since the Jan. 9 leak.

EPA officials have been involved most directly in activities at the site of the Freedom Industries leak, while CDC officials who visited West Virginia were helping with a follow-up study of the more than 500 residents who sought medical treatment. CDC officials also devised the controversial 1-part-per-million “screening level” the state has used in telling residents that their drinking water is safe…

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