ACUSHNET — The Board of Health is sending a letter to New Bedford Mayor Scott W. Lang this morning asking that the city meet with town officials and halt its pending fluoridation of the shared water supply.
Thomas Fortin of the health board advised selectmen last night that the intent is to stop the fluoridation program, alert the public to its adverse aspects, establish facts about the effects of the process, and request federal studies not released for decades and review their data.
Fortin said if city officials sidestep a meeting with Acushnet, the town’s next step would be to seek a temporary injunction against fluoridation’s start. He said this might provide the time to request and secure federal fluoride files, especially those relating to the Food and Cosmetic Act of 1938.
Selectmen Chairman Robert F. Brown said the town looks to the health board to take the lead on stopping the city. “We should try to work this out amicably,” he said. “If not, we can do a legal injunction; but we’re not trying to make enemies.”
Selectman David W. Wojnar said the town should remain “realistic. This is definitely a fight worth fighting,” he said. “There are health and philosophical concerns, but we should remember the realities of where we get our water from. We have to be realistic in the pursuit of our legal options.”
Town Administrator Alan Coutinho has researched legal avenues open to the town.
“We have few options,” Mr. Coutino said, citing Massachusetts case law that says the New Bedford water supply — from which Acushnet receives its drinking water — “is not legally a shared water system.”
In addition, he said, the town through the Board of Public Works has a contract through which New Bedford supplies the town. He said the BPW contract would be viewed in court as superseding state law on shared water supplies.
BPW Chairman Rene Racine last night said his board is rewriting the contract and that the terms may be changed.
A City Hall liaison for Mayor Lang assured Acushnet health officials their request would be processed by late December.