“Science-Based Response Lacking in Chemical Disasters”

See this new report from Purdue University: Studies: Science-based response lacking in chemical disasters. Three new studies suggest that when communities are hit with disasters that contaminate drinking water the official decision-making and response often lack scientific basis. Some details:

The result has been an inability to fully anticipate public health risks and effectively rid plumbing systems of contaminants, sometimes exposing residents to toxic chemicals, said Andrew Whelton, an assistant professor in Purdue University’s Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering and Lyles School of Civil Engineering.

Since 2014 more than 1.5 million people across the nation have received drinking water tainted with crude oil, diesel fuel, algal toxins and coal-washing chemicals.

“Numerous contamination incidents have been caused by chemical spills from storage tank ruptures, pipeline breaks, rail car and truck accidents, as well as algal blooms,” Whelton said.

His team has been examining recent disasters in which tainted drinking water was distributed to homes. The goal is to develop techniques and tools to help communities respond more effectively, said Whelton, who will discuss some of the results of three studies on Wednesday (May 13) during the American Water Works Association Central District spring meeting in Danville, Indiana.

Some of the drinking water catastrophes studied were a January 2014 chemical spill in West Virginia; an August 2014 toxic algal bloom in Western Lake Erie; a December 2014 accident involving a petroleum-based solvent in Washington, D.C.; a January 2015 crude oil pipeline accident in Glendive, Montana; and an April 2015 diesel spill in Nibley City, Utah

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