JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens' pick for health department director has been embroiled in controversy over well water safety in his home state.
Greitens announced Thursday he's tapped North Carolina's former public health director Dr. Randall Williams for the job in Missouri.
Veteran North Carolina toxicologist Ken Rudo has accused Williams of acting unethically by saying well water near Duke Energy's coal ash pits is safe.
State scientists in 2015 warned against drinking the water that contains a cancer-causing chemical. Williams last year reversed that decision, adopting Duke Energy's view that the warning was too cautious about chemical levels.
Greitens touted Williams for his work dealing with opioid abuse and the Zika virus. Greitens' spokesman says the governor was aware of allegations against Williams but still supports him.
Dr. Randall Williams will be the state's new Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services.
"For too... long, governments have let politicians and lawyers shape our health care systems, an approach that led us to the disasters of Obamacare," said Gov. Eric Greitens. "A physician by trade, Dr. Williams has delivered over 2,000 babies. He has served as a physician in combat zones in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Haiti, for which he was recognized as the Triangle Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year. He knows what our doctors, nurses, and providers need to provide the best possible care, because he's been on the front lines himself."
Greitens also noted that as Health Director and Deputy Secretary for Health Services in North Carolina, Dr. Williams helped lead a 17,000 member agency with a 20 billion dollar budget.
"He's led the ght against the opioid crisis there and led eorts to combat the Zika virus." Greitens said. "He worked to reform Medicaid so that it better serves the people. And he has worked to recruit the state's best doctors to the areas of the state with the greatest needs."
"I'm looking forward to visiting each of Missouri's 114 counties and St. Louis as we listen and learn from the people about their ideas, as we integrate clinical care and population health to provide for the health, safety, and wellness of all Missourians," Williams said. We think it is vital that we increase access in all areas of the state, especially our rural, underserved areas while keeping costs low. We have a clear vision from Governor Greitens and our intent is to hit the ground running."