Dear Delegate Perdue: I regret that I am unable to be there in person this evening during the public hearing relative to Senate Bill 373, but I thank you for giving those of us who can’t be there an opportunity to comment with respect to this important legislation. WV has for too long allowed big energy financial interests to take precedence over the health and wellbeing of our citizens. If the horrible chemical leak into the Elk River affecting 300,000 West Virginians will teach us anything, it will teach us that it is time for West Virginia to place a top priority on its people, their health, and the health and livelihood of their children. As such, I urge our representatives to support Senate Bill 373 and to demonstrate further commitment to its people in the days to come. I understand that additional action is needed, as well, and further urge our representatives to do the following:
- Close any loopholes that would allow industry to circumvent needed regulatory oversight.
- Require permitting and regular inspection of facilities that pose risks to public drinking water systems.
- Fund the development and implementation of a comprehensive source water protection plan for West Virginia.
- Ensure public comment and community involvement in water protection efforts.
- Implement Chemical Safety Board Recommendations that are designed to protect the public health.
- Fund the continuation of bottled water distribution to all affected communities until confidence is restored in publicly available drinking water.
- Work diligently to identify an environmentally sound and safe mechanism to flush dangerous chemicals from water treatment plants, distribution lines, sewage systems, and residences.
- Fund all necessary studies that can determine the short and long term effects of exposure to MCHM on human health so that proper treatment can be provided to our citizens.
- Immediately institute and fund a health recovery program designed to identify and treat those whose health has been adversely affected by the spill.
Thank you again for considering these issues. I realize that the last several weeks has been hard on everyone and I pray that your efforts and commitment to our people and their health will have long lasting positive consequences for the future of West Virginia. –Layne Diehl