July 13, 2016 / 10:36 PM / 3 years ago

Charges filed against water operator in Ohio town

(Reuters) - A former public water system operator for Sebring in northeastern Ohio was charged on Wednesday with misdemeanor crimes for failing to notify the public about lead contamination in some tap water in the town, the state’s attorney general said.

James Bates of Salem, Ohio, was charged with two counts of recklessly failing to provide timely notice of individual lead tap water results to affected consumers and failing to educate the public in a timely manner, according to a statement from the Ohio attorney general’s office. All the charges are misdemeanors.

Bates has been summoned to court, a spokesman for the attorney general said.

Bates, a city employee, was the operator of Sebring’s water system when the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency detected elevated levels of lead in some of its drinking water in December and January.

It was unclear whether Bates had an attorney. Previously, Sebring officials said the village believed it was meeting all state environmental deadlines.

Sebring’s water contamination issues followed the controversy over dangerously high lead levels in the water of Flint, Michigan, which led to a political crisis for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.

Prosecutors said some of the Sebring water tests revealed elevated lead levels, which triggered required notice to the public.

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