PRESS RELEASE CONTACT: Annette Smith, VCE Exec. Dir.
DATE: Feb. 25, 2008 PHONE: 802-446-2094 or 802-353-6058 (cell)
Chloramine Records Show DEC, VDH Focus on CWD Costs, Not Public Health
Governor’s Intervention Requested
Today People Concerned About Chloramine (PCAC) and Vermonters for a Clean Environment (VCE) posted on the VCE website copies of records suggesting that state officials are more focused on defending the Champlain Water District than addressing customers’ concerns about their health since the CWD switched to using chloramine. The records were found during a recent public documents request.
“What we have found is evidence of a coordinated attempt to use state agencies to ignore the health impacts people are suffering and instead be the mouthpiece for the CWD,” said Ellen Powell, co-coordinator of PCAC. “The records show few if any discussions about how to get to the bottom of the hundreds of complaints that have come in, but instead discussions about how to ‘win’ the fight to defend chloramine. We’re not trying to ‘win’ anything, just help people be able to drink the water in their own homes,” she concluded.
The documents reveal a high level of coordination between VDH, DEC, and CWD staff and consultants. The communications focus on how to produce documents that would defend the CWD’s decision and “resolve” the issues raised by sufferers by providing them access to an information telephone line. They also showed the beginnings of an effort to shift the focus to the cost to the CWD if they could not use chloramine in the short or long term, something currently being considered by legislators.
“There was no evidence that any of the health concerns raised are being taken seriously,” said VCE Executive Director Annette Smith. “For the past two years we have been seeking a partner in government to get to the bottom of the health issues. Today we’ve made a formal request for a meeting with the Governor to share our concerns, review these documents, and ask for his direct intervention to ensure that the health issues get addressed. That is what he did in the suit against the EPA regarding auto emissions he needs to do the same thing here.”
“While we continue to work with legislators on possible action, we need to bring the Governor into the discussion as well. These are his appointees they need to be held accountable,” she concluded.
A copy of the letter to the Governor asking for a meeting is below.
The CWD switched to using chloramine in April 2006. Since then PCAC has received complaints from over 270 customers who suffer from skin, breathing, and digestive issues when exposed to the water.
For excerpts from the documents referenced, please go to http://www.vce.org/chloramine.html.