Health officials tell 29th and Grove residents to get health treatment for chemical exposure, but who's going to pay for it?
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - 'You know, to be honest about it, I think it goes back to say that they don't care,' said Chester Muldrew.
These are the words felt by just about every person who lives in the 29th and Grove area.
Muldrew says finding out that something as simple as water might be a factor in all the sickness he grew up around was devastating, and he doesn't think it was just from drinking it.
"Everybody back in them days, you know, had gardens. So we would eat stuff from the garden. It had to affect us in some kind of way. It had to. It's impossible for it not to,
The state health department released a study recently in response to a toxic train spill about 50 years ago. It shows an increase in certain types of cancer in the area.
Now, local leaders are recommending people in the area get health screenings and treatment if necessary. With three of his own sisters dying from similar illnesses, Muldrew says he wants to – the question is, who's paying for it?
"A lot of people, they ain't got insurance. So they got to think about those people too," said Muldrew.
And it's a question nobody seems to know the answer to.
Sedgwick County and the city say they're willing to do anything they can to help, but that it's the state's responsibility to put an actual plan in place.
So Friday, we asked this very question to one of the state's top health officials – KDHE Environmental Health Officer Farah Ahmed.
"We were talking about wondering where funding might come from for financial help," we asked.
"I don't know anything about that, sorry," she responded.
"Is the state going to help pay for these medical bills?"
"I don't know anything about that either," she said.
Muldrew says he thinks providing healthcare to the people affected should have been the first thing the state did, so in his mind, he feels like there's only one explanation.
"It's still going. It is just lingering on. And they've just prolonged it and prolonged it. And people are still dying. So they don't care," said Muldrew.
Muldrew says while he wishes the state would do more to make it happen, he thinks Union Pacific, the company responsible for the chemical spill, should be solely responsible for paying.