You are here

Former Water Operator of Sebring, Ohio Faces Criminal Charges Over Public Notice

  • 18 July 2016
  • scalera

The former operator of the Sebring water system is facing criminal charges and a maximum fine of more than $2 million for allegedly failing to notify residents about potentially hazardous lead levels in their drinking water.  The charges are two counts of "recklessly failing to provide timely notice of individual lead tap water results to affected consumers within 30 days of receiving lab results (an unclassified misdemeanor), and one count of recklessly failing to provide timely system-wide public education within 60 days of the end of the lead and copper monitoring period (an unclassified misdemeanor)."  If he is found guilty on all three counts, the operator faces a maximum fine of more than $2 million (at $10,000 per day per violation on each count) and up to 12 years in jail.  However, a judge could impose a lesser sentence.  The charges arose from the operator's handling of lead and copper sampling tests in the fall of 2015.  After the first round of testing showed that an action-level exceedance had occurred, the operator ordered two more rounds of testing which produced similar results. That prompted an Ohio EPA official to inform him that “continuing to collect additional samples in an effort to get below the lead action level at that point in time at the end of the monitoring period was unacceptable.”  OhioEPA provided multiple written documents to the operator.  But the operator disregarded the outreach from Ohio EPA and failed to meet the state's notification requirements