Saturday, November 17, 2007

Harry Mitchell's response to last night's drinking water contamination announcement

Quick update on last night's post concerning the announcement that one of the groundwater treatment stations in Scottsdale failed to do its job for eight days last month -

As expected, Ari Cohn of the EV Tribune did write a story about the meeting; the link is here.

A follow-up story, detailing the City of Scottsdale's assurances that the contaminated water was limited to a private water supply and never entered the city's water supply, is here.

Congressman Harry Mitchell and his office responded quickly, sending a letter to the administrator of the EPA expressing the Congressman's concerns and requesting a meeting to discuss the incident, its handling by the EPA, and what it says about the EPA's priorities.

The letter to the EPA administrator -

November 16, 2007

The Honorable Stephen L. Johnson
Environment Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460

Dear Administrator Johnson:

I am deeply concerned about last night's disclosure by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that water from a Scottsdale Superfund site with nearly double the maximum legal limit of trichloroethylene (TCE), a suspected-cancer causing chemical, may have entered the city's drinking water supply for a period of eight days last month.

The disclosure raises serious questions, not only about the emission, but about why the public was not informed about it until weeks after the event. Notice after exposure is inadequate and unacceptable. When the safety of drinking water is put at risk, the public has a right to know.

At last evening's Community Involvement Group of the North Indian Bend Wash Superfund Site meeting, where the contamination levels were revealed, the information was delivered as a postscript, after several decidedly less important matters had been discussed. I hope this does not reflect the priority EPA assigns to potential exposure to TCE.

I would appreciate an opportunity to meet with you or a member of your regional staff at the earliest possible convenience.

Thank you for your consideration.


Harry E. Mitchell
Member of Congress

OK, I'm going to sound like a partisan hack here (perhaps only because I am one :)) ), but does anyone think that if a corporatist like John Shadegg or Jeff Flake was the Congressman for south Scottsdale, that there would have been a response anywhere near this quick or constituent-centered?

With a couple of minor changes during the last redistricting cycle, Scottsdale would be inundated with press releases bemoaning how EPA regulations suppress profit, not expressing concern for the health hazards faced by the residents of the district.

Side note to the coverage of the meeting -

Read the Trib's coverage of the meeting at the links above, then read the AZ Republic's here.

The AZ Rep article at the link, credited to Diana Balazs, is actually a slight improvement over its original coverage, credited to "staff and wire reports."

"Staff and wire reports" was a euphemism for "we re-edited the Trib's story."

They've pulled that one off of their website, but the article left up is written in a "damn, were we caught with our pants down or what?" style - the Rep didn't have anyone at the meeting and their article consists of a quote from a press release from Arizona American Water and a rehash of the history of the North Indian Bend Wash Superfund site.

The once-mighty Arizona Republic scooped by the lowly Tribune? LOL.


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