KHQA Exclusive: Erin Brockovich speaks on Hannibal water controversy

Consumer Advocate Erin Brockovich is responding to Hannibal residents voicing concerns about the quality of their drinking. This terror despite the Missouri Department of Natural Resources publicly stating the community is safe.

Consumer Advocate Erin Brockovich is responding to Hannibal residents' voicing concerns about the quality of their drinking water.

This terror despite the Missouri Department of Natural Resources publicly stating the community is safe.

"The use of chloramines is corrosive, it can cause the pipes to leach out lead, manganese, iron, etc," Brockovich said via Skype.

She said her greatest concern for Hannibal is testing completed in 2012 finding high levels of lead at the tap.

"You had varying levels of lead at the tap as high as 280 parts per billion, 280, whose house is that in?" said Brockovich.

She says that amount is worse than what's been seen in Flint Michigan.

KHQA has inquired about that 2012 study but neither HBPW, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, or Erin's camp has been able to provide that information.

She says the use of chloramines is a cheap way to fix the problem.

"If I was sitting there do you need us to increase your water by $5 a month because we have to follow regulations to make sure your water is safe or do you want us to take a risk with the chloramines where we already know people are concerned, having reactions, and having lead issue and then we can't be certain you won't get sick. That's something important to talk about."

While she couldn't provide KHQA with specific studies, Brockovich says chloramines cause illness. She says community members are telling her they are experiencing side effects of this latest water practice.

"Change of color of water, the smell, how it feels, changes in their skin and hair, etc."

According to the Hannibal Board of Public works, the 2015 lead and copper numbers are completely acceptable. Keep in mind, 90% of the 30 total tests need to fall under maximum contamination levels to be compliant.

These samples come from random Hannibal homes.

The lead concentration for all 30 sites was 3.12 parts per billion, copper was 46.5 parts per billion - both significantly below respective maximum containment levels.

I have nothing that says we are unhappy with anyone [with Hannibal Board of Public Works], based on compliance reports that the department has received from the board of public works. Hannibal is far below the disinfection byproduct for maximum containment levels," Director of Communications, Tom Bastian with Missouri Department of Natural Resources said.

"Listen I'm not going to sit here and play doctor with anyone. I listen to people. Water is complex, lots of chemistry, lots of changes happening. There will be changes with the chloramine and when people are the recipients start having noticeable effects I think they should take heed."

In a final statement, Bastian told KHQA:

Each community has the discretion to decide which treatment process it would like to utilize, as long as the technology is safe and will effectively provide treatment in all conditions. The department has determined that, as long as the city properly operates and maintains its system, chloramination proves to be a safe and effective method for addressing the city's compliance issues with disinfection byproducts.

The activist became a household name after Julia Roberts took home an Academy Award in 2000 after portraying Brockovich in the self-titled film.

Brockovich says she looks for problems, where policy needs to change and help to ensure those people have a better life.

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