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State of emergency to end soon, Tomblin says

By Staff reports

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says he's days away from lifting a state of emergency over last month's chemical spill into a public water supply. Tomblin told reporters Tuesday "in the next several days" he hopes to end the state of emergency, which has lasted almost 41 days.

Tomblin said he let the emergency declaration continue partially because of the chemical's lingering odor from some taps and showers. Tomblin said ending the emergency status would not affect his appeal for more federal assistance for nonprofits and agencies that responded to the crisis.

FEMA initially rejected Tomblin's application for individual reimbursement for spill responders, who provided and distributed water and resources.

Also on Tuesday, Tomblin asked the Centers for Disease Control to begin monitoring more than 300,000 people affected by the leak.

In a letter, Tomblin asked CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden to work together on a timetable for a medical monitoring program.

"Due to the limited number of studies on crude MCHM and PPH, we are formally requesting the CDC, or its partners, immediately conduct further epidemiological and / or toxicological studies," Tomblin wrote.

Tomblin said there is a specific need to "address ongoing population surveillance or monitoring" and work must begin "immediately."

Not much is known about effects of crude MCHM or PPH on humans. The CDC developed an emergency "screening level" of 1 part per million for safe exposure to MCHM shortly after the leak.

CDC officials developed the screening level from three "uncertainty factors" to take into account their use of a laboratory rat test, potential impacts to sensitive populations and a troubling lack of data on the chemical.

Karen Bowling, cabinet secretary of the State Department of Health and Human Resources, also signed Tuesday's letter.


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