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East Orange, NJ, officials arrested for conspiring to hide water pollution

Environment News Service (Feb. 13, 2013)

Two top officials of the East Orange Water Commission have been charged with conspiring to close contaminated wells before monthly water tests so as to falsely report low levels of a regulated contaminant in drinking water supplied to customers, then opening the wells, allowing the chemical back into the water supply. …

[Executive director Harry] Mansmann and [assistant executive director William] Mowell allegedly conspired to falsify mandatory testing of the EOWC’s water supply to hide elevated levels of the contaminant tetrachlorethene, or PERC, an industrial solvent used for dry cleaning, which is classified as a probable carcinogen.

In addition to charges of conspiracy, the two were cited for official misconduct, unlawful release of a pollutant, and violations of state water quality laws. The two were responsible for the water quality of East and South Orange, home to some 80,000 people. According to ENS, one well had levels of PERC 25 times higher than the legal limit.

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