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Shawn McCoy, publisher of InsideSources, touted quite a terrifying scoop on Twitter this morning: “DC RESIDENTS: Do not drink your tap water. Story breaking soon.”
Yikes! About 15 agonizing minutes later, McCoy tweeted the story by David Eldridge that apparently required such an alarming tease: “Flint Whistleblower: Health Impact of DC Water 20-30 Times Worse than Flint.”
Eldridge’s story, filed in light of the Flint water crisis and a congressional hearing, covered a 2009 study on the dangerous levels of lead in D.C.’s water… in the early 2000s. The story featured an interview with Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards, who was key to exposing the problems in D.C. and Flint. Eldridge wrote, “Edwards told InsideSources he has lingering concerns about the estimated thousands of lead pipes that remain in the District’s water system.”
While the District’s lead issues were extremely serious, advising more than 650,000 people to not drink the tap water was “highly irresponsible,” says D.C. Water.
Twitter seemed to agree.
It's one thing to worry about lead pipes! It's another to unilaterally declare a public health emergency with… what evidence?— Matt Pearce 🦅 (@mattdpearce) March 17, 2016
Reached by email, McCoy said he would not respond to or delete the tweet: “Absolutely not. I am never again drinking my tap water.”
Asked to comment on the story, a D.C. Water spokesperson said, “If you read the article you will know this is primarily based on an interview with Marc Edwards about the lead crisis 10 years ago. The tweet was from the publisher of that site and it was highly irresponsible. There is nothing wrong with the water today. Our testing shows lead levels are at historically low levels.”