Around 15 residents of a small Fayette County town attended a public listening session hosted by Sen. Joe Manchin to tell officials of PCB contamination and cancer death rates in their community.
The session was attended by Manchin representatives Brian Aluise and Missy Phalen.
At the session, Susie Jenkins-Worley of the environmental rights group Headwaters Defense said that her group has counted 400 cancer deaths of Minden residents and former residents, prior to 2014.
Since 2014, she said, 152 Minden residents have died of cancer.
She also thanked Manchin for requesting that Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio Servidio visit Minden.
Servidio plans to visit June 7.
Manchin (D-W.Va) had requested in May that Servidio visit Minden, in response to the plight of Minden residents whose community has shown PCB contamination in in EPA testing. PCB is a suspected carcinogen. Residents of the community, along with the late physician Dr. Hassan Amjad who studied the link prior to his August death, believe that PCB exposure is making residents ill.
Worley-Jenkins and other Minden residents have been outspoken critics of EPA dealings in Minden.
Manchin has arranged for health care screenings to be provided to those who live in Minden and arranged for water to be delivered to residents this morning.
“These guys are really trying to help us,” Worley-Jenkins said. “We have to see if it’s really going to happen.”
Manchin praised Servidio for his commitment to visit Minden.
“I am thrilled Regional Administrator Servidio has answered my call to visit Minden, meet with its residents, and see first-hand the full range of impacts that PCB contamination continues to have on the Minden community,” Manchin said Thursday. “I have said that Minden warrants the attention of senior leadership at the EPA, and I am pleased the Regional Administrator agrees.”
Servidio plans to meet in Oak Hill with state and local politicians and officials on June 7 and, later the same day, to visit Minden.
Dr. Ayne Amjad, who has taken over a study her late father had started on the link between PCB and cancer in Minden, has coordinated with Manchin and will continue to provide health screenings. Residents may request Amjad as their provider when setting up screenings.
West Virginia University plans to return to Minden to provide a mobile health screening, possibly on June 30, at Manchin’s request.
Jenkins-Worley is handing out health cards to residents with a phone number that will allow residents to register for free health screenings.
Darrell “Butter” Thomas, a Minden resident who has worked with Worley-Jenkins to bring attention to the plight of Minden residents, said Manchin is making a step in the right direction, but he remained cautious Thursday.
“We’ve got promised things for years,” he noted. “The people here need relocated.”
EPA has hosted several clean-up efforts in Minden since 1984 because the small rural community was contaminated with PCBs by an industrial facility. The EPA has conducted several removal actions on the property since 1984 including the removal of more than 5,000 tons of contaminated soil. Recent reports state that cancer rates are significantly higher in Minden than the rest of Fayette County.