Anti-fluoride activists are down but not out.
The attorney representing Clallam County residents seeking to stop fluoridation of Port Angeles’ drinking water said they are considering taking legal action against the city after the state Supreme Court announced Monday that it will not reconsider an earlier ruling that sided with City Hall.
The Sept. 23 ruling said the city’s 4-year-old practice of adding fluoride to its drinking water for dental purposes could not be challenged through citizens’ initiatives.
The two appellants in that case, Our Water-Our Choice! and Protect Our Waters, asked the state high court to reconsider the tight 5-4 vote.
Gerald Steel, their attorney, said legal action is being considered against the city to stop fluoridation, but he declined to say exactly what his clients have in mind.
If any action is taken, he said it would be done by Clallam County Citizens for Safe Drinking Water, another anti-fluoride group that he represents.
“We can say that Clallam County Citizens for Safe Drinking Water is considering its options for further legal action against the city,” Steel said.
Dr. Eloise Kailin, the secretary and treasurer for the group, said legal action could be taken within “the framework of, say, three months.”
But the Sequim-area resident stressed that no decisions have been made and declined to elaborate on what’s being considered.
“I haven’t committed to that,” she said.
“I just don’t talk about lawsuits until I’m ready to file them.”
Any legal action taken could also involve the city of Forks, Kailin said. Forks is the only other public entity on the North Olympic Peninsula that fluoridates its water.
City Attorney Bill Bloor called the state Supreme Court’s decision “good news” and said he wasn’t surprised that anti-fluoride activists are considering other ways to try to stop fluoridation in Port Angeles.
“I think the people who are opposed to fluoride are very sincere in what they are saying, and they are very dedicated to their cause,” he said.
“So, if they were to continue through some other means to persuade or to force the city to stop fluoridation, it wouldn’t surprise me.”
The city started fluoridating its water in 2006 to help prevent tooth decay.
Opponents of fluoridation say its digestion can lead to long-term health problems, such as brittle bones.
The city’s water includes 1 part per million of fluoride.
City Hall spends between $24,000 and $30,000 a year on fluoridation, said Glenn Cutler, city public works and utilities director. That includes the cost of purchasing fluoride, equipment maintenance and testing of water samples, he said.
The city used a $260,000 grant from the Washington Dental Service Foundation it received in 2003 to help pay for the fluoridation system.