New Jersey allows 1 part per billion of tetrachloroethene in water supplies, lower than the federal limit of 5 parts per billion. The stricter standard is due to New Jersey’s industrial past and history of chemical spills going back several decades, DEP spokesman Larry Ragonese said.
The alleged crimes occurred between November 2010 and August 2011 _ at a time when the DEP had switched the East Orange Water Commission from quarterly to monthly monitoring because of concerns about gradually rising contaminant levels, Ragonese said.
The indictment charges Mansmann and Mowell with shutting down contaminated wells to artificially reduce levels of PERC, and with taking multiple samples and only submitting the lowest sample. For example, of four samples testing as high as 1.96 parts per billion in April 2011, only a sample that tested at .788 was submitted to the DEP, the indictment says.
“We’re relying on the water companies to do the testing, and we expect every company to provide us with reliable and accurate information,” Ragonese said.
Reached at home Wednesday, Mowell declined to comment. His attorney had no immediate comment.
The conspiracy and official misconduct charges and the one count of unlawfully releasing pollutants are second-degree crimes with a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a fine up to $150,000. The other charges are third-degree crimes and punishable by a maximum sentence of five years and a fine up to $15,000.