The White House reportedly tried to block the publication of a report that indicates a nationwide water contamination crisis because it would be a “public relations nightmare,” Politico reports.
The report from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry found that the water supply near military bases, chemical plants, and other locations was at a quality level significantly lower than what the EPA considers safe.
In an email, one White House employee said: “The public, media, and Congressional reaction to these numbers is going to be huge…The impact to EPA and [the Defense Department] is going to be extremely painful. We (DoD and EPA) cannot seem to get ATSDR to realize the potential public relations nightmare this is going to be.”
Critics of the decision say that it’s being buried in order to put corporate profits above public safety. Vanity Fair notes that releasing the report has potential to dramatically increase the cost of cleanup at the affected sites, many of which use a foam that contains the harmful chemicals suspected to have been found in the contaminated water. Several large companies have previously had to pay billions to settle contaminated water and associated personal injury claims.
The study has yet to be released more than three months later, and there is currently no scheduled date to release the report.