Under the Dome

Former NC health director embroiled in coal ash controversy reportedly hired in Missouri

Dr. Randall Williams reportedly hired to health director position in Missouri
Dr. Randall Williams reportedly hired to health director position in Missouri N&O file photo

Dr. Randall Williams, former state public health director, has been hired to a similar job in Missouri, according to a local newspaper.

Williams, an obstetrician/gynecologist, was appointed North Carolina’s public health director in July 2015. He became embroiled in controversy over the safety of household well water near coal ash ponds. He was also a candidate for Raleigh mayor in 2011.

He could not be reached Thursday.

In testimony last year related to a lawsuit, state toxicologist Ken Rudo said state health and environmental officials tried to “play down the risk” of coal ash contamination of drinking wells.

Williams and former Department of Environmental Quality Assistant Secretary Tom Reeder rescinded a do-not-drink notice in March 2016. Rudo said in his deposition that the state was telling people the water was safe when it knew it wasn’t.

In a deposition, Williams said he rescinded the warning notices because they were stirring up unwarranted fears.

The state Department of Health and Human Services disputed Rudo’s account.

Megan Davies, an epidemiologist who was section chief in the state Division of Public Health and Rudo’s boss, resigned last summer over how the department and former Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration portrayed Rudo’s testimony.

She and another colleague had also testified about concerns they had about rescinding the warning notices.

Lynn Bonner: 919-829-4821, @Lynn_Bonner

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