Dear Mr. President,
I am writing you as a dutiful, concerned, and stressed-out husband and expectant father from Charleston, West Virginia. My first child is due on February 20th, just three weeks away. As it currently stands, according to the CDC and our doctors, my wife, Sarah, is still not cleared to safely use the water in our home. We have been dealing with this for three weeks already, and based on the information available, it doesn't look like the water will be safe anytime soon for her use. Our water still smells like 4 methylcyclohexanol, and experts are saying that this chemical could be in our water system at a detectable amount for a very long time. I don't know how I am going to safely care for my son after he is born when I can't trust my water supply. We're not using it, so I'm surely not going to use it on my newborn.
To add to this, due to Freedom Industries' lack of concern for public safety and West Virginia American Water's late warning on the evening of January 9, 2014, my wife and unborn son suffered unnecessary exposure to the contaminated water as well. She drank it, ate food prepared with it, and showered in it within minutes of the late warning. We both felt ill that evening as a result, which lets me fully know that we ingested this chemical. This is after an entire pregnancy where she gave up unhealthy foods, preservatives, unnatural dyes, caffeine, soda, and even chewing gum due to artificial sweeteners for the life-long health of our unborn son. To say the least, I am extremely upset and frustrated that we have been subjected to unknown dangers that were outside of our control, and it doesn't feel like a whole lot is being done to correct this horrible injustice.
We live less than a mile from the spill site, and we lived in the toxic fumes that enveloped this entire city for days without any warning of inhalation dangers. We felt nauseous and had headaches constantly, and I worry how that may have affected my child. The general population, but more importantly, pregnant mothers have been ill-advised and disregarded as a public concern since the beginning of this situation, and I have had enough of it.
I have contacted my own attorney to pursue legal action, because we are left with no choice but to move out of our beautiful house and neighborhood to ensure the safety of our newborn son. This is a huge financial burden that we can't afford, but my attorney has informed me that because of Freedom Industries Chapter 11 filing we are years away from even beginning the litigation process. We are far from any retribution being dealt to those who deserve it, and my family is not receiving any compensation for the atrocities imposed on us. As a result, we feel like trapped lab rats.
As a fellow father, I am reaching out to you, and I have some questions. When is this going to become a federal matter? Do you just not care what is happening down here? Is it really just acceptable for the people of Appalachia to be ignored when things like this happen because of this region's past history? Is it not on your radar just because nobody has died? When are you going to visit here and talk to these people who are STILL suffering and see how this has affected everyone's lives? What plans do you have to help the pregnant women and the mothers of young children in this area who are still without safe water?
Outside of our own happy and healthy pregnancy being jeopardized, I know myriads of other couples who are facing the same problems. A coworker and his wife with a due date within two days of ours were planning a home birth their entire pregnancy, which is now a plan that must be heavily modified; a huge inconvenience at the end of the third trimester!
How can you be content ignoring this? How do you justify no federal intervention? What CAN you do to help?
There is an entire population of people like ourselves still suffering and struggling down here. We are being given no options except to bring outside water into our homes, while we receive large water bills in the mail. It is your duty to help us, and I can assure you that we most definitely need your help. Make the people responsible for this accountable both economically and criminally. Overhaul the West Virginia DEP because they are the ones who allowed this to happen. Quit allowing the coal and chemical industries down here to have despotic rule over everyone's lives. Do something people will finally respect you for in this region! Help me and others move our pregnant wives and young children out of this area into a safe environment. Lastly, use every expert you have to get safe water back to this area. If you could stop allowing things to happen that directly jeopardize my family's health and safety, maybe then I'd sign up for Obamacare.
This post first appeared on Kirk's Facebook page.