5/13/19 8:00 p.m. UPDATE:
For the Fayette County town of Minden, years of prolonged patience and persistance finally paid off, especially for lifelong resident Susie Worley-Jenkins.
“It’s become more obvious that there’s a problem,” Worley-Jenkins said. “Given everybody knows about it, I think something will be done.”
At Monday morning’s press conference, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler officially signed the Fayette County town onto the agency’s National Priorities List, putting its prominent PCB problem in the federal spotlight.
“We’re going to focus more federal dollars, research, investigations,” Wheeler said. “We’re going to start our site remedial investigation.”
The enlistment came approximately three years after Minden residents began sending complaints of PCB contamination from the former Shaffer Equipment site. Now, the town will undergo further examination and action to come by the EPA, including research on the area, the risk to the people there, and how to deal with the problem.
U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito said Minden’s addition to the list is not a cause for celebration, further explaining it is a chance to breath a sigh of relief and give them hope for their future.
“It shouldn’t be one of these things where ‘I couldn’t find anybody to talk to’ or ‘I couldn’t find where they were really doing the sampling,'” Capito said.
The opportunity for the people living in Minden to relocate is not off the table, but logistical and financial questions will soon have to be answered before officials can take action.
“Get to the truth. Get to the bottom of it,” said lifelong Minden resident Elmer Roles. “The truth will set you free.”
The project’s final cost and timeline will depend on the outcome of the EPA’s remedial investigation, which began Monday. It will be exclusively funded by federal money, not from state or county taxpayers.
Minden’s addition to the National Priorities List sent relief throughout the community, especially those in the medical field.
For Dr. Ayne Amjad, her father Hassan began a case study of health problems directly associated with Minden’s water. She said she is excited for Minden to make the list, especially because of the cancerous effects of PCB.
“You just want to take people away from the cause… as early as possible,” Amjad said. “We know exposure is the cause. We want to get people away from it and its long-term effects.”
Amjad said her practice will help support the EPA and its contractors once its preliminary investigation is complete.
Minden was one of seven total towns and cities nationwide that were added to the list on Monday.
Minden has officially been added to the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priorities List.
The announcement was made at a press conference held at a church in Minden Monday, May 13, 2019.
The concern is over Polychlorinated Biphenyls, also known as PCBs. Minden residents are believed to have been exposed to PCBs from equipment stored by the Shaffer Company.
According to lawkmakers in West Virginia, people in Minden show a significantly higher rate of cancer than other residents of Fayette County.
Now that Minden is on the National Priority List, the community will have access to the EPA’s Superfund. That could help residents in providing specialized medical care and other services.
Stay with 59 News on this developing story.