Report: Officials Knew About Newark Water Problems For Years

Mack Rosenberg
December 18, 2019 - 3:30 pm
Newark water problem

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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NEWARK, N.J. (WCBS 880) -- A new report suggests Newark officials knew about problems in the water years ago and that there were several red flags that were ignored.

The problems center around the Pequannock treatment plant where NJ.com reports complacency was king and decisions were made by one person, Andrew Pappachen, who reportedly made the decision to drop pH levels in Newark's water in 2012, making it more acidic.

"But that had this terrible side-effect of creating a real lead contamination problem that spread," said Erik Olson with the Natural Resources Defense Council, which has sued Newark over the lead contamination crisis.

Pappachen denies ever making that decision.

NJ.com reports the plant failed to properly disinfect its water and broke the law by setting its own disinfection requirements, which it still couldn't meet.

In 2014, a state regulator said a boil water advisory should have been issued over a 5-month period when the plant was testing its water.

Newark is replacing lead service lines at a rate of about 50 per day, WCBS 880's Mack Rosenberg reported.

"The concern is how is that being done, is it being done correctly, are they really identifying all the service lines, what process are they using to decide where they're doing it?" Olson said, adding that the good news is Newark has started using a new corrosion inhibitor which should begin to have an effect by next year.

The city says it has replaced nearly 4,000 lead service lines.