Texas politicians knew agency hid the
amount of radiation in drinking water
By Mark Greenblatt
KHOU 11 News – Houston
May 19 – HOUSTON— Newly-released e-mails from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality show the agency’s top commissioners directed staff to continue lowering radiation test results, in defiance of federal EPA rules.
The e-mails and documents, released under order from the Texas Attorney General to KHOU-TV, also show the agency was attempting to help water systems get out of formally violating federal limits for radiation in drinking water. Without a formal violation, the water systems did not have to inform their residents of the increased health risk.
“It’s a conspiracy at the TCEQ of the highest order,” said Tom Smith, of the government watchdog group Public Citizen. “The documents have indicted the management of this commission in a massive cover-up to convince people that our water is safe to drink when it’s not.”
Smith is talking about what happened to residents who live in communities served by utilities like Harris County Municipal Utility District 105. For years, tests performed by the Texas Department of State Health Services showed the utility provided water that exceeded the EPA legal limit for exposure to alpha radiation.
However, the TCEQ would consistently subtract off each test’s margin of error from those results, making the actual testing results appear lower than they actually were. In MUD 105’s case, the utility was able to avoid violations for nearly 20 years, thanks to the TCEQ subtractions.