Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Toxic Taps?

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Toxic Taps?

Article excerpt

ON THE list of humankind's most basic needs, nothing ranks higher than clean water. On that same list, little ranks lower than government bureaucracy.

These facts were brought home with tragic clarity during the Flint, Mich., water crisis, when elevated levels of lead were discovered in the city's water supply and state officials failed to respond quickly.

Yet one positive thing to come out of that crisis was a renewed sense of urgency on the part of environmental advocacy groups and government officials in making sure our nation's water supply is clean and plentiful. That's important because this week another clarion call on safe water was sounded.

As Staff Writer Scott Fallon reported Wednesday, a metal that can cause cancer has been found in drinking water throughout New Jersey, including all systems that serve Passaic and Bergen counties.

While state officials stress there is no need for public panic about the levels of hexavalent chromium in the water, there is plenty of reason for concern.

There is also a need to make this contamination a priority -- especially in Trenton. The Environmental Working Group says state regulators have backtracked on establishing a more stringent health standard for the metal.

"We should always be striving for stricter standards, and this administration simply does not want to," said David Pringle, the New Jersey campaign director for Clean Water Action, who said politics have gotten in the way of enacting more stringent standards. "We don't want to be playing Russian roulette with our drinking water."

The new concern about hexavalent chromium, which has long been a source of anxiety in Garfield, where tons of chromium-laden sediment has been removed in recent years from the former E.C. Electroplating site, comes by way of a new national report issued by the Environmental Working Group.

The report issued Tuesday is a compilation of thousands of samples taken nationwide from 2013 to 2015. …

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