The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has issued two orders to the East Orange Water Commission (Commission), assessing a total of $402,000 in civil penalties for environmental violations. In re E. Orange Water Comm’n, Nos. PEA130001-0705001 and -599529 (NJDEP 2/27/13). The Commission serves about 75,000 people, supplying water from 18 wells. One well has been found to contain tetrachloroethylene (PCE).
The NJDEP actions assert improper discharge of water containing PCE into the Passaic River. Other allegations include claims that the Commission tested its incoming water only when the tainted well was not being pumped, falsified samples, created improper records of its sampling programs, did not properly notify its customers that water from the system exceeded the drinking water Maximum Contaminant Level for PCE, and did not submit a remedial action report responding to the excess PCE levels. NJDEP also asserts that the Commission refused to allow NJDEP inspectors access to offices at a pump station for an inspection. The orders assess a $70,000 penalty for the illegal discharge and $332,000 for the other violations. The Commission has the opportunity to request a hearing on the alleged violations.