EAST ORANGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Lawmakers in one New Jersey city are trying to address concerns from local residents about the quality of their drinking water more than a month after top officials were indicted on charges they hid elevated levels of a contaminant.
East Orange councilwoman Alicia Holman is among those introducing legislation to restore confidence in the city’s water quality and safety.
In February, Harry Mansmann, the executive director of the East Orange Water Commission, and assistant William Mowell, were accused of shutting down contaminated wells before monthly water tests to hide elevated levels of tetrachloroethene, an industrial solvent used for dry cleaning and other purposes. The solvent, also known as PERC, is classified as a probable carcinogen.
Holman told 1010 WINS that some aspects of the new legislation will try to address getting the disgraced executives replaced with the proper personnel.
“One of the resolutions is to have an executive director and an assistant director with the proper licensing and background in water engineering. We also want to request quarterly reports on water quality that on the annual state report that must be reported and we also would like to show that posted to the city website,” she said.
Mansmann and Mowell were charged with conspiracy, official misconduct and violating state environmental laws.
State officials levied a $402,000 fine against the East Orange Water Commission earlier this month for falsifying samples, creating improper records of samples and not notifying customers that the water had exceeded acceptable contaminant levels.
Holman said the city still wants some answers, but the Department of Environmental Protection and other parties have not been giving them enough of them.
Officials also want to know why it took so long to relay information about the water quality.
“Since our water hearing, nothing has still come out to the Water Department other than the New Jersey DEP came out and did state that our water is safe to drink. But we want them to have an understanding that we have a reverse 911 system in the city, why was that not used?” Holman asked.
Holman said since their meeting at the beginning of the month, city officials haven’t had any other contact with the water commissioner or the DEP.
“We haven’t had any other follow-up discussion with the water commissioner or anything. So we’re still, A, where are you with getting an executive director and an assistant director and, B, what’s the status of this fine that we have to pay and basically the status of the water department,” Holman said.
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