(NaturalNews) As Flint, Michigan, continues to be faced with the challenge of cleaning up its own lead-tainted water supply, another city in the state of Ohio finds itself dealing with a similar problem.
Once again, federal, state and local officials have failed in their responsibility to a community to not only provide safe water, but also to inform citizens when dangerous levels of lead are present.
Residents of Sebring, Ohio, were outraged to find out that their city’s water supply contained high levels of lead, and that the Ohio EPA had known about it since August, 2015 – but neglected to warn the community of the danger.
The EPA is pointing fingers at the city’s water treatment plant operator, but lawmakers want the EPA to answer questions about their own handling of the matter.
“A lead poisoning scandal has struck a second US town, with schools closed in Sebring, Ohio Monday and the water treatment plant operator accused of falsifying reports.
“Initial tests found elevated lead levels in 28 homes and one school in the midwestern village of about 4,400 people, Ohio’s environmental protection agency said. It is not clear how long lead has been leaking from the town’s pipes.
“The agency said in a statement it has ‘reason to suspect that the operator falsified reports’ and has asked the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s criminal division for help with the investigation.”
Meanwhile, two Democratic lawmakers, State Rep. John Boccieri and State Sen. Joe Schiavoni are taking the EPA to task regarding their role in failing to respond adequately to the crisis.
In a letter to the Ohio Speaker of the House, Boccieri wrote: “We have received no answer to our repeated questions about steps taken by the EPA, which shares a moral and legal obligation to notify the public when such a crisis evolves, to remedy this crisis.”
The Sebring water crisis has been mishandled at every level, with elements of bureaucratic ineptitude, as well as outright lying and cover-ups, on the part of both local officials and the EPA.
EPA negligence as usual
Even if the EPA’s investigation was hampered by the water treatment plant operator’s failure to produce relevant reports while falsifying others, as the agency claims, why did the EPA wait until December to post a warning on its own website – months after it received reports that the Sebring water supply lead levels were unsafe?
“A water advisory alert for pregnant women and children was posted on the Ohio EPA website on December 3.
“But Boccieri and Schiavoni said the Ohio EPA had knowledge of the lead leakage as early as August, citing reports from Ream & Haager Laboratory, a state-certified vendor that conducted the water tests.”
Criminal charges against the Sebring water treatment plant operator may be pursued by the EPA – true to its usual method of punishing anyone but the agency itself. The EPA rarely seems to be held accountable for its own screw-ups, but is always eager to launch criminal proceedings against others.
Lead in the water: a nationwide issue
The really scary part of these stories about Sebring and Flint, is that they may merely represent the tip of the iceberg. There is plenty of evidence that water supplies in many cities are contaminated with lead and other toxins, and that authorities are distorting test results.
From The Guardian:
“Water authorities across the US are systematically distorting water tests to downplay the amount of lead in samples, risking a dangerous spread of the toxic water crisis that has gripped Flint, documents seen by the Guardian show.
“The controversial approach to water testing is so widespread that it occurs in ‘every major US city east of the Mississippi’ according to an anonymous source with extensive knowledge of the lead and copper regulations.”
The takeaway: Don’t take the authorities’ word on the quality of your water. Have your water tested by an independent lab, especially if you have any reason to think that it may be contaminated. Install quality water filters in your home. Gravity-fed filters are among the best for the money, but if you can afford it, install a whole-house filter. Always keep a stockpile of clean water on hand in case of an emergency.