Ohio EPA Investigating Sebring Water Treatment Operator as Lead Advisory Remains in Effect: Update

The Ohio EPA may revoke the Sebring water treatment operator's license following an investigation into the lead advisory issued last week. (See original story below.)

The state EPA office is saying that operator Jim Bates may have falsified reports. Water testing is continuing this week, as the investigation becomes criminal in nature.

“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 in a statement. “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.”

Butler has said, however, that the present situation is "improving" in Sebring as the days go on.

Classes have been canceled again today in the Sebring School District, as EPA continue to test the village's water supply. The district includes some 650 students.

"Another round of testing is being done for precautionary reasons," Superintendent Toni Viscounte told WEWS

The village council will meet at 7 p.m. to discuss the lead advisory and investigation. 

Originally published Jan. 22

Last night, the Sebring village manager issued a water advisory after tests found lead levels of 21 parts per billion at seven homes. The EPA mandates a customer alert anytime lead levels exceed 15 parts per billion.

(Sebring is about 60 miles southeast of Cleveland.)

Village manager Richard Giroux told WFMJ that the water coming from the water department is actually safe; the village just installed new carbon filters at the plant. 

However, he says the lead could be a result of what he calls aggressive water.

According to the Penn State Extension service, aggressive water, also known as corrosive water can dissolve materials with which it comes in contact.

The school canceled classes today in light of the news. Testing will continue today.

The advisory also comes in the far-reaching shadow of the Flint, Mich., water crisis

About The Author

Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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