Mountain Stage officially kicks off our 40th Broadcast Season this week with our 39th anniversary celebration featuring Bela Fleck My Bluegrass Heart, The Brother Brothers, Alice Howe with Freebo, The Bing Brother feat. Jake Krack, and a special appearance from West Virginia’s Poet Laureate Marc Harshman.
“We don’t know what the concentration of it is in air, but I can guarantee you that the citizens of this valley are at least in some instances breathing formaldehyde,” he said.
“They’re taking a hot shower, this stuff is breaking down to formaldehyde in the water system and they’re inhaling it.”
The new revelations and new information Simonton provided the commission is something Senate Majority Leader Senator John Unger said shocked him and his fellow lawmakers.
“The testimony today was quite disturbing and I think the entire commission was kind of put back quite a bit because that’s not the information we’ve been hearing as far as the news media,” Unger said, “and what he was testifying today was the hard truth and it definitely was difficult.”
Simonton told the commission the information state officials released in the days during the chemical leak, information about when the water was safe for use and consumption, he can’t find what evidence they had to back it.
“What concerns me is the information they were giving out as if they did know. They were saying ‘go ahead and drink it, it’s okay, it’s safe now.’ Well, we heard both on Friday from the Chemical Safety Board and from Dr. Simonton that it’s not safe to drink,” Unger said.
“I think that’s where the disappointment is that these authorities are saying things without the proper science to back it up.”
Unger said by allowing people to continue to consume and use the water without having that evidence could possibly be exposing more people to the chemical.
Tuesday, Senators passed Senate Bill 373 creating new regulations for similar above ground storage facilities and called it step one in preventing future water contamination, but Unger said figuring out the health effects, that has to be part of step one as well.
“We need to do it simultaneously. We need to be moving forward. The whole idea of Senate Bill 373 was to make sure that this doesn’t again anywhere in West Virginia,” he said. “Now we have to look at what do we do in response now that it’s happened and this is an ongoing situation that’s unraveling as we get more and more information and how do we help those people that have been exposed to it, which is all of us here in Charleston and the Kanawha Valley.”
Going forward, Unger said lawmakers will rely on the medical community to monitor and figure out ways to treat anyone exposed to the chemical.
His commission hopes to hear from the Department of Health and Human Resources on monitoring in the next week.
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