Official: Water complaints could be ‘act of terrorism’
A Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation deputy director warned a group of Maury County residents that unfounded complaints about water quality could be considered an “act of terrorism.”
“We take water quality very seriously. Very, very seriously,” said Sherwin Smith, deputy director of TDEC’s Division of Water Resources, according to audio recorded by attendees. “But you need to make sure that when you make water quality complaints you have a basis, because federally, if there’s no water quality issues, that can be considered under Homeland Security an act of terrorism.”
“Can you say that again, please?” an audience member can be heard asking on the audio.
Smith went on in the recording to repeat the claim almost verbatim.
The audio was recorded May 29 by Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment, a Knoxville-based civic action group that had been working with Maury County residents to tackle water quality complaints in Mount Pleasant.
Residents there have complained to the state for months, saying some children had become ill drinking the water. The meeting was organized by State Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, and attended by residents, TDEC and local officials.
TDEC said it was looking into what had been said at the meeting and that Smith would not be available for comment.
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