New Sebring Water Findings Detailing Lack Of Public Warning "shameful," Boccieri Says
Latest information shows state, local authorities left public uninformed for months

State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) todayexpressed his frustration with new information that The Vindicator reported Sunday revealing that authorities at the Village of Sebring knew of contamination in the area’s water as early as October 7, 2015. In an email exchange that occurred on that day between Village Manager Richard Giroux and Water Superintendent Jim Bates, both officials discussed recent water tests from the vendor that showed elevated levels of lead.

Boccieri says this revelation means the Village, water-testing vendor and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) all knew about the dangerous lead levels between August and October of 2015, yet failed to warn the public of unsafe drinking water until January 21, 2016.

“It is shameful that pregnant women and children drank lead-tainted water for months when all it would have taken was a press release for the public to be properly notified of the threat to their health,” Boccieri said. “The EPA should have taken charge here to make sure the public was aware of the lead contamination.”

Boccieri previously obtained evidence from the state-certified water-testing vendor, Ream & Haager Laboratory, showing the state EPA was first informed of Sebring’s elevated levels of lead on August 21, 2015. The new evidence showing Village water authorities knew of the contamination in October means the public was the sole party left uninformed until the state EPA sent out an advisory in late January.

Boccieri introduced legislation last month to establish clear standards for timely public notification in cases of lead contamination. The bill also directs local boards of health to conduct regular water testing.

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