NC epidemiologist resigns saying DHHS misled public

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The state epidemiologist has resigned from her position immediately saying DHHS misled the public.

Her resignation follows the drinking water safety issue CBS North Carolina has been reporting on for months for people living next to coal ash ponds.Related: Click here to read the Davies resignation letter (pdf document)

In her resignation letter, Dr. Megan Davies says she “cannot work for a department and an Administration that deliberately misleads the public.”

Last year the state told people living near ash ponds their water was contaminated and they should not drink it.Related coverage: CBS North Carolina Investigates coal ash pond issues

Then months later they retracted those warnings saying their water was safe.

But then in lawsuit involving Duke Energy, a partial deposition was released from long time toxicologist Dr. Ken Rudo.

Rudo said the warnings should never have been pulled and that Department of Health and Human Services was knowingly misleading the public.

The governor’s office has been very outspoken about discrediting Rudo, even saying he lied under oath.

On Tuesday, the State Health Director and Assistant Secretary from DEQ released an open letter also discrediting Rudo.

Davies blamed that letter for her resignation.

She says it misrepresented how DHHS set screening levels for the wells in question and that it gave a false narrative of Rudo.

Rudo’s attorney released a statement saying “Despite attempts by State officials to inject “politics” in order to divert public attention from their despicable actions against an honest and dedicated public servant, Mr. Philbeck {Rudo’s attorney} will make sure Dr. Rudo’s reputation, voice and truth about North Carolina’s coal ash contamination remains heard loud and clear by the public.”

Davies said her resignation is immediate and was a terrible loss for her personally and professionally but says she released her letter in the interest of transparency.

“Today, we have accepted the resignation of Dr. Megan Davies,” said DHHS Secretary Rick Brajer. “We wish her well in her future endeavors.”

DHHS released a statement saying “It is important for North Carolina citizens to know that, while there are differences of opinion and we respect those differences, ensuring citizens’ safety and communicating are our top priorities. Throughout this process, we’ve provided full information to homeowners about the safety of their drinking water and have taken appropriate steps to reassure citizens who had been unduly alarmed. We remain committed to the health and safety of our citizens.”

The department says Zack Moore, MD, MPH, pediatric infectious disease specialist and medical epidemiologist will assume the role of acting epidemiology section chief and state epidemiologist.

CBS North Carolina Investigates reached out to Gov. Pat McCrory for comment and are waiting for response.

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