WaterWorld Weekly Newscast, July 16, 2018

July 16, 2018
The following is a transcript of the WaterWorld Weekly Newscast for July 16, 2018.
New EPA chief addresses staffers; Worker killed in water tower construction accident; NH governor signs groundwater protection bill; American microbiologist wins Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize

The following is a transcript of the WaterWorld Weekly Newscast for July 16, 2018.

Hi, I'm Angela Godwin for WaterWorld magazine, bringing you water and wastewater news headlines for the week of July 16. Coming up...

New EPA chief addresses staffers
Worker killed in water tower construction accident
NH governor signs groundwater protection bill
American microbiologist wins Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize

Andrew Wheeler, the new acting head of the Environmental Protection Agency, spoke to EPA staffers last Wednesday for the first time since Scott Pruitt quit as agency administrator after months of ethics scandals.

In his address, he outlined three key priorities.

ANDREW WHEELER: "We will focus on providing certainty in three areas: One, certainty to the states and local governments; Two, certainty in EPA has programs such as permitting and enforcement actions; And three, the most important one to me personally, and the one that I intend to spend the most of my knowledge of my time, is certainty in risk communication. If we can improve these three areas we will make tremendous progress improving environmental protections and enhancing uneconomic growth."

Wheeler told agency staffers that he has their backs and will seek their input as he sets the way forward for the troubled agency.

ANDREW WHEELER: "I want you to know that I will start with the presumption that you are performing our work as well as it can be done. My instinct will be to defend your work and I will seek the facts from you before drawing conclusions."

Wheeler made no mention of the allegations that led to Pruitt's resignation.

Authorities say a worker was killed and another injured when a metal panel shifted and fell during construction of a 500,000-gallon water tower in Porter, Texas.

The accident happened on July 6.

Two other workers who were unhurt were rescued.

RICHARD TRAMM, PORTER SPECIALTY UTILITY DISTRICT: "On behalf of the Porter Special Utility District we certainly would like to give our condolences to those who have been hurt and killed in this incident. As well as let the community here know that we're just completely devastated that this would happen with the contractor here. And we'll do everything we can to provide some support to their family."

Fire officials believe the metal wall panel was being lifted and put into place at the time of the accident.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu signed a bill last week focused on protecting state groundwater resources from perfluorinated compounds.

Under the new legislation, the Department of Environmental Services will review current groundwater standards for PFOA and PFOS, and propose new standards for two other perfluorinated compounds -- PFNA and PFHxS -- by January 1st.

The presence of elevated levels of PFCs has been detected in the groundwater in a number of New Hampshire communities, including Portsmouth, where firefighting foam used at Pease Airforce Base is believed to have contaminated a local well.

In international news, Professor Rita Colwell, an American microbiologist, was recognized with the 2018 Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize for her pioneering insights into microbial water quality surveillance.

The award, presented during Singapore International Water Week, recognizes Colwell for her discoveries and innovations, which have changed the way the world thinks of water microbiology.

Her seminal work has contributed significantly to the understanding and prevention of waterborne diseases, helping to improve water safety, and protect the health and lives of millions of people worldwide.

Colwell holds a B.S. in bacteriology and M.S. in genetics, both from Purdue University, as well as a Ph.D. in oceanography from the University of Washington.

She was also the first female director of the National Science Foundation, a position she held from 1998 to 2004.

For WaterWorld magazine, I'm Angela Godwin. Thanks for watching.