Rebecca Panico reports for TAPinto Newark:
NEWARK, NJ - A city official yesterday claimed that one home in the East Ward once showed elevated levels of lead because a former city employee tampered with the testing.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and other city officials have repeatedly said those in the East Ward need not worry about elevated lead levels. But a group that is suing the city over the issue claims officials are “misleading” East Ward residents about which areas are affected.
Newark Department of Water and Sewer Utilities Deputy Director Kareem Adeem today said that a former disgruntled employee may have had a vendetta against the city, and caused an East Ward’s sample to spike. He declined to name the person when asked.
"We had a former employee that used to conduct samples who was terminated," Adeem said. "He fought us in court, he lost his case. We still had him on the list to give us samples. He spiked the samples. To this day, he's never allowed us to come back into the house to re-sample."
The fabricated lead levels could have been done with a pencil, Adeem added.
The unnamed employee was brought up during a wide-ranging press conference today that was meant to address what the city has called “misinformation” circulating in the media.
TAPinto Newark last month reported on federal court filings from the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), which is suing Newark. The group filed several briefs in court shortly after the city began to distribute lead filters to residents. The NRDC claimed the information put out by the city may not have been accurate.
“Plaintiffs are deeply troubled that Newark and its representatives continue to minimize the geographic scope of the problem,” lawyers for the NRDC wrote in an Oct. 15 court filing. “Newark residents rely on these assurances in making critical decisions about whether and how to protect themselves and their families. The City’s public announcements must not contain misleading information; if they do, Newark residents will continue to be harmed.”
Newark began distributing filters to residents in October after it received preliminary results of a study that investigated what was causing elevated lead levels. The study was commissioned by the city and conducted by CDM Smith, an engineering firm based in Edison.
The report found the chemical the city put in its Pequannock water supply that prevented lead from dissolving into pipes had stopped working.
Related News Stories:
Labels: drinking water, lead content, lead levels, municipal water, New Jersey, Newark, NJ, NRDC, water testing