North Carolina’s chief epidemiologist, Megan Davies has resigned, on her way out accusing GOP state lawmakers of purposely misleading residents about the safety of the state’s drinking water.
After calling out the biggest utility in the state and Republican Governor Pat McCrory, she gave up her job of nearly seven years and an annual salary of $188,000.
In 2014 a Duke Energy power plant spilled 40,000 tons of toxic coal ash and 27 million gallons of wastewater spilling into the Dan River. The ash is harmful to both human beings and the environment. It contains very toxic chemicals like mercury, arsenic, and silica.
A year later, after residents had been told that the water wasn’t safe to drink, state officials from the Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Health and Human Services recontacted them and told them their water was safe, in spite of the testing that showed that the well water near the ash dumping sites was still unsafe and contained high levels of cancer causing toxins.
Duke Energy lobbied the state to reverse the “do not drink” order, despite mothing changing with the water.
From Bipartisan Report:
Governor Pat McCrory actually worked for Duke Energy for 30 years prior to becoming the governor and didn’t listen when many state employees disagreed with reversing the “do-not-drink” order. One of those state employees was Ken Rudo, toxicologist for the Department of Health and Human Services. Rudo expressed that he believed the only reason the “do-not-drink” order was lifted is because of Duke Energy’s connection to the government. Rudo also removed his name from the letter DHHS sent out to residents claiming the water was safe to drink.
The Associated Pressed managed to obtain a copy of a deposition that was given last July by Ken Rudo as a part of a lawsuit that was filed against Duke Energy by several conservation groups, including the Sierra Club. Duke Energy company was unsuccessful when it tried to get the documents from the case sealed, but during court Rudo accused his boss, state public health director Randall Williams of lying to the residents of North Carolina affected by the shoddy coal ash dumps.
‘The state health director’s job is to protect public health. And in this specific instance, the opposite occurred. He knowingly told people that their water was safe when we knew it wasn’t.’
Naturally, when the story broke, Williams was angry and desperate to save face. Williams and Tom Reeder, a rep from the Department of Environmental Quality, published an open letter in an attempt to portray Rudo in a negative light, saying he didn’t understand water toxicology. Thankfully though, Rudo wasn’t alone in his fight and Megan Davies, the state’s chief epidemiologist, resigned her position in protest.
In her resignation later, Davis didn’t hold back about her reasons for leaving:
“The editorial signed by Randall Williams and Tom Reeder presents a false narrative of a lone scientist in acting independently to set health screening levels and make water use recommendations to well owners…I cannot work for a Department and an Administration that deliberately misleads the public.”
The residents of North Carolina deserve better than a governor who lies to them about something as serious as the safety of their drinking water because they’re friends with the energy company.
Governor McCrory should be the one writing a resignation letter.