Responding to the Freedom Industries chemical spill
In July, the Gazette reported that CDC had promised to “send a team to West Virginia within the next two months to help state officials determine what sorts of long-term health monitoring is needed for residents exposed to leaked chemicals,” according to the Gazette. The CDC did not promise any funding for monitoring.
The CDC team came to WV this past week and, according to a press release from the Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), “has committed to partnering with DHHR to develop plans that will allow the state to monitor a number of health outcomes over a long-term period. While this will not be directed toward the specific population involved in the chemical spill, it will allow health officials to closely monitor any significant changes or “spikes” in health care indicators. The monitoring is not on an individual level or even a specific event level, but it will closely monitor the overall health indicators in the state.”
This language is pretty vague, but it’s quite clear that the CDC and DHHR are not planning any medical monitoring program to track individuals exposed to crude MCHM and PPH.
This failure to come up with an adequate plan for medical monitoring seems to be at least as much a failure of the state government as the CDC. Although the Gazette article points out that SB 373 requires DHHR to “endeavor to engage” the CDC in health studies, the legislature never bothered to provide any funding for health studies. (Where did the money go?) Given that the WV government itself hasn’t ever demonstrated that it thinks medical monitoring is a priority, and given that the Tomblin administration is attacking the federal government left and right on many other issues, perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that providing WV with federal assistance is not a huge priority.