And the cover-up continued at the summit, as the EPA tried to bar reporters from the Associated Press, CNN, and E&E News from attending. Some 200 people attended, including representatives of states, tribes and the chemical industry and environmentalists.
Published emails revealed the agency and the Trump White House feared a "public relations nightmare" in response to widespread contamination from the chemicals, which are commonly used in Teflon, firefighting foam, and by the Department of Defense for exercises at US bases, and have been tied to thyroid and pregnancy issues as well as some cancers.
Last week it was reported that the White House was seeking to suppress a federal health study about the effects of PFOA and PFOS in drinking water, citing a potential "PR nightmare".
Pruitt had convened what he called a national summit on unsafe chemicals that have been found in some water systems.
This might be a case where greater transparency would provide a clear indication of what the Trump administration was doing about the report and how the EPA's actions would lead to more coherent government response.
The nonprofit Environmental Working Group estimated in a new study that more than 1,500 water systems serving as many as 110 million customers across the country may be contaminated. Authorities say the contaminants are present in risky levels in some water systems, including several near military bases and industries.
"Today's been eye-opening for me".
The EPA has never established a maximum contaminant level for GenX, which has been found in high levels in private wells surrounding the Chemours Fayetteville Works chemical plant on the Bladen-Cumberland County line and in public drinking water in New Hanover, Pender and Brunswick counties.
Pruitt also pledged to start the process of declaring those particular versions of the chemicals as hazardous substances. The step could allow the agency to make companies pay for releasing the pollutants into ground and water. She pushed back on a question about whether there are any instances where the White House believed it was appropriate to physically handle a reporter. Pruitt said Tuesday that the EPA is expected to get its own targeted list out by the fall.
"This was simply an issue of the room reaching capacity, which reporters were aware of prior to the event", EPA spokesperson Jahan Wilcox said in a statement to Mother Jones.
When the reporter asked to speak to an EPA public-affairs person, the security guards grabbed the reporter by the shoulders and shoved her forcibly out of the EPA building. This reporter did not attempt to force her way into the building or otherwise resist, and was not hurt. But a new EWG report reveals that the EPA hasn't even told Americans the true extent of the pollution, which is much worse than previously reported.
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