Hixson Utility District faces renewed questions about its use of a contaminant, hydrofluorosilicic acid, which it puts deliberately as policy into the water supply of more than many thousands customers in North Chattanooga.
The public utility, whose board meets Friday at 4 p.m., in its recent “Waterworks” newsletter says that the acid, called fluoride for short, is a “contaminant” it identifies as “discharge from fertilizer and aluminum factories.”
By David Tulis / Noogaradio 92.7 FM
Fluoride is a government-approved industrial waste that proponents say is no danger to public health, one that hardens enamel in the teeth of small children, but one that clean-water advocates insist is connected to nerve system damage and health problems.
The three-member board came under pressure in 2016 to end fluoridation, which brings equipment damage and capital damage with which manager Greg Butler must regularly contend. David Collette, manager of a neighbouring Northwest Utility District in the northern part of Hamilton County, cited equipment damage in calling for an end to fluoridation in summer 2016.
Mr. Collette’s board agreed with him and in July ended injection of the chemical. The tide of objections shifted southward. Led by a young musician, activists demanded Hixson end fluoridation. But board members Rebecca Hunter, Jeff Davis and Kenneth Ridge refused to vote on the matter, saying not enough evidence had been presented to warrant reconsideration of fluoride.
“We’ve researched what we could find out about fluoride,” board member Mr. Rich said at the meeting in which the board refused to vote on fluoride, “and we found out that if it’s injected within limits, it’s been very beneficial in most water companies. When in a research we have done we have found all the agencies that are interested parties have studied the effects of fluoride on tooth decay are highly in favor of it. And I personally am in favor of continuing it. I don’t see any reason” to stop the injections.
Fluoride a voluntary contamination
Hixson Utility District is required to reveal what contaminants are in the water it draws from the Chickamauga watershed, what it calls “a Cambrian-Ordovician carbonate underground aquifer.” The company says it owns all the sources of water from which it draws. It enjoys “high natural water quality” from Cave Springs and Walkers Corner well feeds, which it says meet EPA standards.
Contamination is unavoidable, HUD says, as all water contains “at least small amounts of some contaminants” that do not necessarily indicate it is a health risk. The company says that its water sources include rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, reservoirs, springs and wells. “As water travels over the land surface or through the ground, it dissolves naturally-occurring minerals and in some cases, radioactive material, and can pick up substances resulting from the presence of animals or from human activity.”
Utilities put hydrofluorocilicic acid into the water voluntarily. No statute, rule, ordinance or law requires it as a contamination. Liability for long-term medical consequences of the practice belongs to the utility board. If litigation were to come, its defense would be that it acted in good faith and had not been made aware of the dangers of the chemical.
Mr. Marter, in an interview, says he intends to give notice to Hixson Utility District about its liability in face of much scientific data in favor of his position. Mr. Butler did not respond to requests for an interview prior to today’s meeting.
Lost public comments
In March local real estate agent Harriet Cash says she confronted Mr. Butler about public comments at the HUD website opposing fluoride. Mr. Butler “told me that he has received not one customer response asking for removal, so he wrote N/A beside item #5. I asked, ‘What about from the ‘Comments’ on your webpage?’ I personally know of several people who sent their request via your website. He looked at me blankly and said, ‘No, we’ve gotten nothing from our website.’”
The comments window is at http://www.hixsonutility.com/contact/, but people with comments about the mass medication program for fluoride may wish to send a physical letter to the company at 5201 Hixson Pike, 5201 Hixson Pike, Hixson, TN 37343 to get into the record.
Sourced: Spring 2017 “Waterworks” newsletter, Hixson Utility District