Health official resigns in cancer warnings flap, DHHS releases statement

RALEIGH, NC (AP) – A North Carolina epidemiologist is quitting her state job because she says health agency officials are trying to mislead the public about warnings concerning well water near Duke Energy coal ash pits containing a cancer-causing chemical.

Dr. Megan Davies resigned Wednesday. She said a letter from top members of Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration falsely blamed a colleague for contributing to fear and confusion of people who live near the pits and whose well water is tainted with cancer-causing hexavalent chromium.

State officials on Tuesday criticized state toxicologist Ken Rudo for his work urging people near the Duke Energy plants not to drink their well water. The officials blamed Rudo for “questionable and inconsistent scientific conclusions.”

State officials reversed the warnings in March and said the water is safe.

Last night, the Department of Health and Human Services released this statement:

“Today, we have accepted the resignation of Dr. Megan Davies,” said Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Rick Brajer. “We wish her well in her future endeavors.

“It is important for North Carolina citizens to know that, while there are differences of opinion and we respect those differences, ensuring citizens’ safety and communicating are our top priorities. Throughout this process, we’ve provided full information to homeowners about the safety of their drinking water and have taken appropriate steps to reassure citizens who had been unduly alarmed. We remain committed to the health and safety of our citizens.”

Zack Moore, MD, MPH, pediatric infectious disease specialist and medical epidemiologist has assumed the role of acting Epidemiology Section Chief and State Epidemiologist. Dr. Moore came to DHHS’ Division of Public Health as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, then later transitioned to a medical epidemiologist position within the division.

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