Erin Brockovich Won’t Back Down on Mount Pleasant Water Contamination Statements
By Heather Callaghan, Editor
It’s been 19 years and Erin Brockovich still rises up to get involved in the time following the 1990s Oscar-winning movie about her fight with PG&E for a community that became a cancer cluster due to corporate malfeasance.
When she speaks up, the world listens. Corporations and regulatory boards – be they reckless or negligent – think that they can slip by without her investigative eye falling upon them and pressing them with questions.
Such is the case with her recent demand for answers for the second time in three days, involving a potential water crisis in Mount Pleasant City of Charleston County in South Carolina. Her antennae went up two weeks ago after a group of parents there noticed an uptick in brain cancer in the area. A “cancer cluster” is when a community faces a “greater-than-perceived” rate of cancer over a period of time.
She leveled accusations of surface water contamination when she said that Mount Pleasant Waterworks buys “so much water from Charleston” that “several months out of the year they actually inject the severely contaminated excess surface water into Aquifer Storage and Recapture (ASR) wells.”
Brockovich added in a Facebook post on Monday:
There are more unanswered questions about Mount Pleasant and Charleston, South Carolina’s water quality than there are answers. Constantly bragging about pristine ancient water that requires reverse osmosis is just bizarre.
But officials adamantly deny Brockovich’s concerns and any increase in cancer:
That’s not what the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control found. Instead, experts at the state health department said the number of cases in Mount Pleasant was not considered abnormal. Officials said there is no cancer cluster.
A national water quality expert said Wednesday that cancer clusters are difficult to prove, and pesticides are unlikely to be the cause the recent cases of brain tumors in Mount Pleasant.
Still, parents are not assuaged by the officials’ assurances – they want answers and Brockovich isn’t backing down.
“I stand by everything in my initial post about this situation,” she wrote on Wednesday. “I have been investigating the cancer issue for weeks and had instructed my water expert to work with the City.”
Post and Courier explains:
Clay Duffie, general manager of Mount Pleasant Waterworks, said Brockovich was wrong.
“We would never inject contaminated water into the aquifer,” he said Tuesday.
[Brockovich] then went on to accuse Duffie of deploying “misdirection tactics” and urged him to “stop the ridiculous political spin.”
Brockovich also posed a series of six core questions:
- Is the primary source of water to Mount Pleasant from Charleston and not the Middendorf Aquifer?
- What is the source of water injected into the Middendorf Aquifer for the Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) program?
- Does the Hannah Treatment Plant have treatment techniques deployed to remove PFCs, NDMA, Pesticides, Herbicides, PAHs, 1,4 dioxane, Pharmaceuticals, or Personal Care Products? If you believe so, what are they?
- The State of South Carolina prepared for Mount Pleasant and Charleston a Source Water Assessment in 2003. Have you read it? Have you updated it? Have you prepared a Source Water Protection Plan? Do you know what chemicals are discharged into your water sources? How many NPDES discharges are contributing to your source water? Can you provide a list of discharges or chemical contaminants?
- Will the City of Charleston and Mount Pleasant Waterworks produce all of their water quality test results for the past 5 years?
- What specific water quality analysis is being performed by the State?
A water expert accuses Brockovich of criticizing the issue “from afar” but Brockovich noted that just saying the water is safe is not adequate. Along with working with the city for answers she has submitted a FOIA to Mount Pleasant.