WNYC The Takeaway January 22, 2019
Newark’s Lead Levels In Water
When some schools in Newark, New Jersey found elevated levels of lead in their water in 2016, officials initially advised that the problem was due to the city’s aging infrastructure, and that the problem was limited in scope.
But two years later, a more focused picture is emerging. Over the summer, the National Resources Defense Council sued the city in federal court, alleging violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Erik Olsen, NRDC’s senior director for health and food, told The Takeaway, “The bottom line is that kids across the city of Newark are having their health put at risk by lead contamination in their water.”
This fall, it was discovered that one of the city’s two water sources had a failed “corrosion control” system, which should have prevented old service lines from leaching lead into residents’ homes. Tests conducted this month show that lead levels in the city’s water are the highest they’ve been in 17 years.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka has sought to portray the situation as a national crisis, and penned an open letter to President Trump demanding federal help.
Karen Yi is a staff reporter for The Star Ledger and NJ.COM. She joins the program to share her reporting.