PORT ANGELES – The state Court of Appeals has rebuffed another legal challenge to the city’s public water fluoridation project.
But fluoridation opponents vow to continue their legal challenges to the project that began in May.
In a unanimous decision released Tuesday, a three-judge panel rejected the challenge filed by Blyn physician Eloise Kailin, along with the groups Protect the Peninsula’s Future and Clallam County Citizens for Safe Drinking Water.
The groups are being represented by Seattle attorney Gerald Steel, who also was the attorney for Sequim First, a group that appealed two regional shopping centers.
They disputed a lower court ruling that public water fluoridation is “categorically exempt” from the state’s Environmental Policy Act.
The judges disagreed, rejecting several arguments including that the city building and operating a public water fluoridation system is separate from the state Department of Health’s regulation of fluoridation.
Kailin responded in a statement released Wednesday, “We regret this decision but note that the ruling is limited to a legal interpretation of environmental law.
“It also does not address the very substantive issue of fundamental rights of the entire population of the city to make informed, individual choices over what medication may or may not be put in their bodies,” the statement read.
“Neither does it address the fact that the Department of Health has left it to the city to monitor and control the quality and contents of public drinking water additives,” it stated.
Kailin said in a later interview that the challenge is “in limbo” until fluoridation opponents figure out what they are going to do.
Dr. Steve Chapman, one of the original fluoridation promoters, said he expected the appeal to be rejected.
“We expected this court case to be thrown out,” he said.
“It underscores that the city did an excellent and thorough job of reviewing the benefits of fluoride.”
Chapman said that the appeal “is yet another failed effort to tie up the city by endless appeals and red tape.
“We think it’s about time to move on,” he said.