Fluoride Action Network

Blount County: Fluoride set to flow despite lawsuit

Source: The Daily Times (Maryville) | May 6th, 2008 | By Robert Norris

The effort to keep fluoride out of the South Blount County Utility District water supply is now in the hands of lawyers, but the utility still plans to start fluoridation on Wednesday.

Linda King filed suit Monday in Blount County Chancery Court requesting that the utility provide documentation showing fluoride in water is safe to drink.

“For months now we have been stating our side of the story that it is harmful,” King said. “We have not heard from South Blount County Utility District, from the county Health Department, or the mayor (Jerry Cunningham),” King said, commenting on the lawsuit.

She filed the suit individually and as a representative of Citizens for Blount County’s Future and “14,000 John and Jane Does representing the approximate number of water consumers of the South Blount County Utility District.”

Looking for a guarantee

The lawsuit requests that the utility provide the plaintiffs with documentation showing fluoridation is safe. King said they want a guarantee that the fluoride will not harm the utility’s customers and that the utility district will accept liability for health consequences.

“All we want is due diligence on the part of South Blount County Utility District and also the mayor. The only thing they say is that it will prevent cavities,” King said.

Plaintiffs named in the suit are the utility district, District Manager Henry Durant and the members of the Board of Directors: Virginia Morton, Tom Abbott and Marshall Hurst.

The lawsuit states: “Defendants have failed to review necessary and relevant safety data, failed to allow for public commentary based upon a full disclosure of the safety data, acted in secret and behind closed doors in an effort to avoid public commentary and discussion of their fluoridation plan, intentionally misled the public into believing that fluoride was not to be placed in their water supply …”

Durant said a copy of the suit had been sent to the utility’s lawyer and that South Blount likely will respond to the complaint within 30 days.

‘Feeding the fluoride’

There is no expectation that the suit will affect the plan to fluoridate the water. “The plan now is to start feeding the fluoride Wednesday. That’s what our lawyer’s advised — to just get on with it,” Durant said.

Fluoridation would have already started except that notification to customers was inadvertently delayed, he said, and the board decided to wait until after today’s board meeting to begin the process.

Durant said he is not planning to discuss fluoridation at the meeting this morning, as the decision has already been made, but he does expect opponents to appear at the utility’s office since they have a permit to picket.

King, noting that the group has nearly 1,200 signatures of people opposed to South Blount fluoridating the water supply, said she plans to be there.

The board meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. today at the utility district offices, 808 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway, Maryville.