Ohio EPA approves changes in Sebring

Thursday, Sebring has hired a new class 3 operator to run its water plant, a week after the Ohio EPA suspended the license of its former operator.

The Mahoning County Board of Health is working to process hundreds of water tests from Sebring, Ohio.

SEBRING, Ohio (WKBN) – Thursday, Sebring has hired a new class 3 operator to run its water plant, a week after the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency suspended the license of its former operator.

The new operator will be Don Alpeter, who has been running a water plant in Paris, Ohio for a number of years. He was hired under a 45-day contract.

On Jan. 25, the Ohio EPA suspended Jim Bates’ license after news broke on Jan. 21 that there were elevated levels of lead in the water of some homes in the Sebring water distribution system.

The EPA also approved a plan Thursday to add a chemical to correct the acidity of the water in the distribution system and also coat the pipes so that the lead will not leach. Previously, acidic water was stripping lead from the pipes in homes and putting it into people’s water.

Sebring also plans to purge its water lines, and city officials expect 3 to 4 weeks to pass before everything is back to normal.

“I’m hopeful that 30 days from now, the entire system will be normalized and that the lead issue will subside,” said City Manager Richard Giroux.

Meanwhile, directors with Mahoning County’s lead-abatement program will be working with families that have children with high levels of lead in their blood.

“If they come back with a confirmed elevated blood lead level, we’ll go and do a risk assessment at their home, because that’s more than likely where the lead poisoning is happening,” said Phil Puryear, head of the Lead Hazard and Healthy Homes Programs.

If problems are discovered, Puryear said his office will work with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to come up with grant money to help cover the costs of repairs.

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