water

A forthcoming report by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will expose the dangers troops face from their own drinking water. Trump administration officials are panicking.

According to documents obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Union of Concerned Scientists, officials in both the Trump administration Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) expressed concerns about the report’s findings in a series of exchanges in January.

The HHS report is a followup to an earlier report issued by the Pentagon to members of the House Armed Services Committee about trace amounts of perfluorinated compounds being found in roughly 130 military bases around the U.S., which can lead to cancer and birth defects in newborn infants if the parents have prolonged exposure to the chemicals. While drinking water at 36 military bases was shown to contain the chemicals, approximately 90 others showed perfluorinated compounds. In those instances, the amount of perfluorinated compounds found in the water was above the EPA’s acceptable level of human exposure.

In one email to EPA chief financial officer Holly Greaves, OMB official James Herz called the details of the draft HHS report a “public relations nightmare.”

“The public, media, and Congressional reaction to these new numbers is going to be huge. The impact to EPA and DoD is going to be extremely painful,” the email read.

While bottled water is being distributed to families on those affected military bases, and a full list of the installations has been included in the Pentagon’s report, OMB and EPA officials are having conversations with HHS to discuss the agency’s findings in their new report. The emails obtained by the Union of Concerned Scientists show that the OMB is trying to insert itself as a “neutral arbiter” to “step up and coordinate intergency review of this important guidance document before it is released.”

 

Scott Alden is a freelance contributor covering national politics, education, and environmental issues. He is a proud Toledo University graduate, and lives in the suburbs of Detroit.

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