UPDATE | People in Denmark, SC protest for safe water

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Saturday, January 26, 2019
News 12 at 6/NBC at 7

DENMARK, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- For at least 10 years, people in Denmark did not trust the water coming into their homes.

Turns out, the chemical HaloSan was in the water. It's a chemical often used as a pool disinfectant and it's not approved by the EPA.

Today, the city rallied, pleading for justice.

Joyce McNeal and a van full of others drove 12 hours from Flint, Michigan to Denmark, South Carolina.

"Does this situation remind you of what happened in Flint?" "Every day," Joyce Mcneal, from Flint Michigan replied. "This is Flint."

Thousands drinking poisonous water. In Flint, it was water with lead that killed Joyce's son.

"My son was the one the had the compromised immune system and the mental illness," McNeal said. "It destroyed him mentally and the bacteria and stuff ate him up alive."

Now Eugene Smith and his wife worry about what could happen to them.

"It's brown, muddy looking. Smells," Pauline Ray Brown said.

"We got a lead test. It came back starting off from a 1 to a 2 to 3 to 5 to 6 to 7 close to 8 level of lead was in me," Eugene Smith said.

They're not just worried about lead.

'It's very scary to not know what is coming out of your water."

"HaloSan is in this water, lead is in this water, manganese is in this water, copper is in this water," John Harrell, the attorney for the people of Denmark said. "Not only that, but they're being charged for the water they can't drink. It's ridiculous."

John Harrell is the attorney for the people of Denmark. They filed two class action lawsuits against the City.

"We discovered that there was a poisonous water problem in Denmark and we discovered that no one in administration is willing to do anything about it," Harrell said.

"I was my clothes, I scratch, I shower, I scratch. It is not the lotion or soap I use, it's the water."

For now, they rely on bottled water because for more than 10 years, they couldn't trust their own.

"Like Doctor Mark Edwards says the only thing this water is good for is to flush your toilet," Brown said.

Doctor Mark Edwards is the professor who helped expose Flint's lead crisis. He's been testing Denmark for more than two years and is only one of the hundreds still demanding answers.

News 12 @ 11

DENMARK, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- While the City of Denmark has stopped using a chemical called HaloSan in water from one of its wells, people exposed to the chemical say they're still dealing with the effects.

With no clear timeline for a solution, neighbors are in limbo, waiting on clean water and answers.

William Stewart and dozens of others waited in line on Saturday behind Denmark Furniture.

"Without purified water, clear water, you might as well die," said Stewart. "You can't survive off of bad water,"

For at least 10 years, people in Denmark used that bad water without knowing it was being injected with a chemical not approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.

"I can't find the words to express myself," said Stewart.

But now that they know about the chemical used in the water, they rely on bottled water. Water they know is safe.

"This helps, but it's no good for the future," said Stewart.

By the thousand, people in Denmark are taking the water crisis into their own hands, handing out nearly a 100, 000 water bottles in the last two months, 12,000 gallons of water in total.

"These distributions are a temporary fix to us getting real answers," said Deanna Miller-Berry. She's heading up a grassroots effort called Denmark Citizens for Safe Water.

They're waiting for answers in the form of class action lawsuits. There are two of them. Demanding to know how the chemical got in the water in the first place, and for a solution.

"People are now listening and people are now believing the facts," said Miller-Berry.

They're also petitioning Governor Henry McMaster to declare Denmark in a state of emergency and in turn, bring relief and safe water to the town. Because they worry the donations behind these distributions are running dry.

Saturday's distribution was the town's third. All three have been sponsored by Walmart where 754 cases of water were handed out.