Flint, part two?
With the country banding together to help the township of Flint, who’s water supply was tainted with lead, leading to the current massive scandal, a second town has been hit with a lead poisoning epidemic.
Schools in Sebring, Ohio were closed Monday thanks to elevated levels of lead found in the county’s water supply. The water treatment plant operator was accused of falsifying reports, too.
The problem was allegedly discovered months ago, but local officials failed to warn residents until last week, despite pressure from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Over 8,000 residents rely on Seibring’s water.
The agency said it has “reason to suspect that the operator falsified reports” and has asked the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s criminal division for assistance with the investigation.
Lead exposure isn’t good for anyone, but is especially hazardous to children. The effects –sometimes irreversible – include lower intelligence, stunted growth, and tendencies towards aggressive and anti-social behavior.
“It has become apparent that our field office was too patient in dealing with the village of Sebring’s ‘cat and mouse’ game and should have had closer scrutiny on the water system meeting its deadlines,” Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler said late Sunday.
“We are in the process of developing new protocols and appropriate personnel actions to ensure that our field staff takes action when it appears that a water system is not complying and taking their review seriously.”
The OEPA also issued an emergency order Monday, removing the head of the water treatment plant and requiring the plant to comply with state rules. Some treatments are already being used to remedy to the town’s water.