Today, environmental activist Erin Brockovich and the D.C.-based nonprofit Environmental Working Group sent a letter to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy asking for federal standards on hexavalent chromium.
Hexavalent chromium is the contaminant that caused the “do-not-drink” order from DHHS to nearly 400 well owners who lived near Duke Energy plants, and was the contaminant in the California town where Brockovich helped win a $333 million settlement from an energy company.
State toxicologist Ken Rudo said in a July deposition that DEQ assistant secretary Tom Reeder wanted added language to the do-not-drink orders pointing out that the levels of hexavalent chromium in the wells did not violate federal standards. There is no federal maximum contaminant level for hexavalent chromium.
“While [former state epidemiologist Megan] Davies claimed in her resignation letter that the administration is deliberately misleading the public about safe levels of hexavalent chromium,” the letter says, “there is little that she or other concerned state officials or citizens can do under current law, as there is no federal enforceable health-protective standard to which she can point.”
The letter calls on the EPA to set a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for hexavalent chromium.
“It’s deplorable that the McCrory Administration would rescind the do-not-drink warnings that were based on scientifically rigorous calculations by state health scientists and block efforts to expand the warnings beyond users of the private wells near coal ash ponds,” Environmental Working Group managing editor Bill Walker told the INDY. “The close ties between Gov. McCrory and Duke Energy, which clearly has an interest in seeing that tough standards are not set, gives North Carolinians reason to doubt that the state is working to protect their health, not polluters’ profits.”
You can read the full letter below.