A national labor union representing federal employees in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has written Dalton Utilities a letter in support of Wally Babb, who utility officials fired after a dispute over fluoridation of drinking water.

“Shame on you,” states the letter, which calls Mr. Babb’s actions “a decision of conscience.” Written by National Treasury Employees Union Chapter 280 Vice President Dr. J. William Hirzy, the letter states the utility should “reinstate Mr. Babb with full back pay and benefits and a commendation.”

Mr. Babb, 45, was fired just before Thanksgiving when the utility said he talked to the media and refused to add the chemical to water in the Dalton plant. Six months before, utility officials demoted Mr. Babb, then a utility purchaser, for refusing to order fluoride.

Dalton Utility spokeswoman Lori McDaniel did not respond to a request for a utility comment on the letter, but she issued a statement saying Dalton Utilities adds fluoride to drinking water because it is a requirement of the utility’s permit issued by the State of Georgia. The law allows utilities and communities to opt out of fluoridation with referendum votes.

Saying fluoridation is endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Surgeon General, the America Dental Association and the American Medical Association, she added that the utility has no intention of initiating a referendum.

The dispute now is becoming part of an escalating fluoride fight around the country as groups are beginning to question the decades-old practice of adding fluoride to public drinking water to fight tooth decay.

On Thursday, Mr. Babb said the union’s EPA chapter letter bolstered his spirit.

“It feels good to have support like that,” he said. “I’ve also had about 200 e-mails now from all over the world.”

Dr. Hirzy, the letter’s author, could not be reached for comment, but NTEU Chapter 280 President Bill Evans said the chapter’s board approved the letter earlier in the week.

Attachments to this article:

Dec 2, 2008, Letter from EPA Professionals: National Treasury Employees Union

Undated: Dalton Utilities Statement

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See also:

Nov 29, 2008: Dalton: Water worker fired for opposing fluoridation

Nov 29, 2008: Tennessee: Lawmaker campaigns against fluoride bill

Also: Attachments to the Nov 29 articles