W.Va. Chief Health Officer Reflects on Chemical Spill Response

Jan 9, 2015

Dr. Rahul Gupta is the Commissioner for the state Bureau of Public Health.
Credit West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources

As soon as he was made aware of the Freedom Industries' chemical spill and the tap water use ban, Dr. Rahul Gupta said his main concern was the health and safety of the citizens in the affected area.

In January of 2014, Gupta was serving as the Executive Director of the Kanawha Charleston Health Department, a position he held since 2009, and was very vocal when responding to all of the possible health concerns related to the spill.

Gupta was recently appointed the Commissioner of the state Bureau of Public Health, the state's chief health officer.

As an event that threatens public safety unfolds, Gupta said one of the first things public health officials do is look at the data and scientific evidence available to help guide the decision making process. Unfortunately, little was known about the chemical crude MCHM, leaving officials often guessing about the best course of action. 

Dr. Gupta said looking back on the water crisis, he does believe state officials did they best they could with the information they had available.