- Associated Press - Friday, March 25, 2016

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) - The city of Stillwater has fired three water department employees after an investigation revealed that workers installed pipe fittings containing more lead than allowed under federal standards.

Stillwater Utilities Authority Director Dan Blankenship said the city learned of the situation earlier this month when a new team leader rotated into the department and noticed that some city policies weren’t being followed. He said the team leader reported his findings and the city’s human resources department launched an investigation.

As a result of the investigation, the city recently learned that workers used parts that don’t meet federal Safe Drinking Water Act standards.

A team leader, a deputy team leader, and an inventory and purchasing clerk were fired from the department after they acknowledged that they were aware the parts shouldn’t be used but they chose to do it anyway, City Manager Norman McNickle told the Stillwater News Press (http://bit.ly/1Slxp2G ).

“They know the law and that we expect them to follow it,” Blankenship said. “They violated the trust of the public and that is not tolerable under any circumstances.”

Another department employee also was fired for violating policies that aren’t related to public safety.

City officials are trying to figure out how many of the parts were used and where they went, but Blankenship doesn’t know if they’ll be able to do so.

Although the discovery may seem alarming to some residents, city officials said there’s no reason to be concerned.

“If the city found something in its sampling we would immediately notify the public,” Blankenship said. “We would immediately address any health risks.”

The utility is working with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality to determine the next step.

It’s unclear whether the city will face any consequences.

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Information from: Stillwater News Press, http://www.stwnewspress.com

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