WRAFT celebrating first anniversary

WESTFIELD—The resident-led advocacy group Westfield Residents Advocating For Themselves (WRAFT) is celebrating their one-year anniversary next weekend and are inviting residents to join.

WRAFT is celebrating the anniversary on Thursday, Feb. 22, starting at 2 p.m. at the Skyline Trading Company on Elm Street. At the event, organizers will continue to try and get blood testing and health monitoring for residents, and will have a “pledge to act” related to this for elected officials to sign.

“We wanted to celebrate and commemorate the work that we’ve done and the work that’s ongoing,” WRAFT founder Kristen Mello said.

She said that the effort will be put forth to try and get site involvement for the blood testing and health monitoring, which they are seeking through the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) and the Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry (ATSDR).

The requests are due to the contamination of city water with perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), notably PFOA and PFOS. This contamination caused two city wells to be taken offline in December 2015, after the Environmental Protection Agency lowered the lifetime advisory limits of PFOA and PFOS in drinking water and the two wells were above that number.

“There’s things we can do with our doctors, we need to know how much is in us, how much is in our kids,” Mello said. “We can make choices but we need accurate data.”

Mello also commented on the recent lawsuit that the city had put forth against three manufacturers of firefighting foam, which is a suspected source of contamination.

Mello said that they “are very encouraged by the action taken by [Mayor Brian Sullivan] and the law department” and acknowledged that it may take a long time for the lawsuit to resolve. However, she said that what WRAFT and residents “need right now is their advocacy.”

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