SEBRING, Ohio -- A northeast Ohio school district has canceled classes and a village says children and pregnant women should not drink water from its system after tests found lead levels that exceed federal standards.
WFMJ-TV in Youngstown reports the Sebring village manager issued an alert Thursday night after tests found lead levels of 21 parts per billion at seven homes.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires alerts to water customers when lead levels exceed 15 parts per billion.
VIEW | Ohio EPA water advisories
The Sebring school district canceled classes on Friday for its 650 students.
The village's water system serves 8,100 customers in the Mahoning County communities of Sebring, Beloit and Maple Ridge.
Village manager Richard Giroux says Sebring recently spent $5 million on carbon filters and the system's water is safe.
Further tests have been conducted today.
Friday afternoon, State Sen. Joe Schiavoni and State Rep. John Boccieri sent a letter to Craig Butler, director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
Dear Director Butler,
We are writing to address the delayed response to signs of elevated lead levels in Sebring and Beloit's drinking water, as described to us in a call with Ohio EPA at 10:15 PM on January 22, 2016.
Although the tests revealing lead contamination were conducted in August and September of 2015, this information was just recently made public and brought to our attention. It is therefore possible that residents in the affected areas have unknowingly been drinking water that poses threats to their health.
We would like to assist in distribution of accurate information to the public and ensure that proper action is being taken to rectify this situation and prevent similar incidents in the future. We request that you provide us with additional information as detailed below.
Below is listed a timeline of events based on a call with Ohio EPA this morning. Please verify or correct the following information.
• August 2015: Samples are collected from within the Sebring water supply pursuant to triennial testing
■ When did testing last take place prior to August 2015? What were the results of those tests?
■ How many samples were taken in August 2015? What was the range for the 2015 testing?
• October 10, 2015: Ohio EPA was informed that lead levels had exceeded government-regulated action levels
■ Is this the correct date?
■ When did the water system know of the exceedance?
• November 10, 2015: The 30-day deadline by which the tested households should have received results
■ Again, is this the right date, or did the system have the results and the obligation to share them earlier?
• December 10, 2015: The deadline for the water system to have completed the notification and public education required by rule 3745-81-85
• December 20, 2015: The deadline for the water system to have reported to Ohio EPA the documentation of the communication and public education efforts under rule 3745-81-90
• January 21, 2016: Ohio EPA issues three violations, which triggered notification to the public
■ Can you provide documentation detailing the violations?
■ When did Ohio EPA staff start providing on-the-ground assistance in the community?
■ When were ODH and local health/emergency management notified, and when did they begin providing water or setting up lead testing options?
• Does Ohio EPA have a standard additional waiting period after a violation is triggered? Why the delay between the deadlines and the issuance of violations?
• Is there any rule that prevents Ohio EPA from directly notifying the public -especially if a local system has missed deadlines?
• What is the breakdown by which water systems are required to report every six months vs. annually vs. triennially?
• How many places in Ohio are under current public education requirements due to government action level exceedance?
• How many places in Ohio are only required to report every year or every three years, based on previous test results, as was the case in Sebring?
• How many homes in Ohio have pipes that would be susceptible to this type of corrosion?
• When will public information be available on the testing taking place now?
• What resources are available to residents who may be concerned about elevated lead levels?
Thank you for your prompt attention to this critical matter. We urge you to take swift action to remedy this situation for the at-risk residents of Sebring and Beloit.