Newark Mayor Calls on President to Federally Fund Lead Line Repairs

According to the latest numbers released by the state of New Jersey, lead levels in Newark are higher than they've been in 17 years of testing.

In the most recent monitoring period, 240 samples were taken between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2018, showing 100 samples above 15 ppb, while 10 percent of samples averaged 47.5 ppb. In the three most recent monitoring periods, the worst 10 percent didn’t average more than 27 ppb.

Erik Olsen of the Natural Resources Defense Council tells the results are “jaw-dropping” and “knock-your-socks-off high.”

Although last spring Newark Mayor Ras Baraka claimed that reports of elevated lead levels were nothing more than a political stunt, he recently wrote an open letter to President Donald Trump urging him to allocate funding to fix lead lines in the city rather than spend $5 billion on a border wall.

“I am writing to express my deep concern that you are seriously thinking of declaring a national emergency to fund a proposed $5 billion border wall,” Baraka wrote in the letter. “I want to bring your attention to a true emergency that puts millions of our citizens at risk: The decaying infrastructure of our water systems which has created a crisis in Newark, the State of New Jersey and across America. Dangerously high levels of lead are entering homes and our children's blood through lead service lines despite the fact that any level of lead can damage the developing brains of young children.”

Baraka says in the short term the city is distributing 40,000 water filters and cartridges to affected homes in Newark. “We are also changing our corrosion control system. But, the only real solution to save this and future generations of children is to replace lead service lines. It will cost an estimated $70 million to replace the lead service lines in Newark, hundreds of millions more to replace them in New Jersey, and an estimated $35 billion to replace all of the lead service lines in America. Achieving this is possible only with financial help from the federal government.”


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