WEST MILFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Contamination concerns have hit one New Jersey town after a series of break-ins at several water treatment plants. Now the Department of Homeland Security is investigating.
The suspected foul play began in July when Jersey Environmental Solutions took over the Municipal Utility Authority operations of West Milford’s water supply.
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Eric Williams — a contractor for the town’s municipal utilities authority — runs the plants. He said vandals have come in at least 15 times since August and flipped switches to shut off power and even thrown a plank of wood into the sewage filtration system.
Pouring a glass of water is no longer so simple for Colleen Czeczuga and her family.
“The kids come out of the bathtub, they smell like they’ve been swimming in a pool,” Czeczuga told CBS 2′s Kathryn Brown.
Czeczuga said she is worried her water is contaminated
“I won’t drink it,” she said.
And West Milford town officials say Czeczuga has good reason to be concerned after a series of break-ins at water treatment plants.
“Pretty anxious especially now that I’m hearing it was an attack on the water,” she said.
For residents, the news has meant near constant disruptions — including lower water pressure and potentially contaminated drinking water.
“It’s nothing minor, this is something major,” said resident Roger Lambert.
“To me its an overabundance of chlorine and there’s nothing you can do so you just drink bottled water,” Ed Reilly said.
It’s not just the water that’s affected. The most recent incident happened at a treatment plant on Monday, when raw sewage spilled out into the streets.
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The break-ins are so worrisome to town officials that they’ve asked the Department of Homeland Security to step in and investigate whether the break-ins are terrorism.
“It is a rather severe charge, but when you’re talking about the public water supply and potentially harming residents…
I think you could certainly say it borders on the act of terrorism,” Williams said.
It’s all very scary and very frustrating for residents who just wants there water to be safe and clean.
Town officials suspect a disgruntled former employee — or someone with knowledge of the system — may be behind the attacks.
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