Bergenfield looking for source of elevated lead found in schools

BERGENFIELD, New Jersey (WABC) -- A New Jersey school district is taking measures to protect students after schools tested positive for elevated lead in the drinking water.

Bergenfield school officials are taking action Thursday trying to find the source of the lead.

Six out of seven Bergenfield Public Schools tested positive for elevated lead in the water.

Test results are still awaited on the seventh school, Jefferson Elementary.

In response, Interim Superintendent Christopher Tully sent out a letter to parents and students, telling them bottled water and water coolers are being provided until tests prove the water is safe.

Maintenance staff shut off every drinking fountain and every faucet used as a drinking source or to prepare food in Bergenfield Public Schools.

15 parts per billion is the level that the Environmental Protection Agency sets as its "action level".

Tests in Bergenfield found lead levels exceeded that threshold in 11 of 18 tested water sources, thus needing remediation.

The highest levels of lead were found in hose bibs in the building's boiler rooms with one registering at just over 44,000 parts per billion.

Another round of testing is planned, and this time it will be done according to more rigorous EPA standards.

The tests were ordered in early April after the district saw the results of similar tests in Newark and Jersey City.

Bergenfield's interim superintendent released a statement:
"With the recent news across the nation and in our state alerting communities to the fact that lead has been found in drinking water, and in the interest of safety, the Bergenfield Public School District authorized the voluntary testing of water in our schools on March 24, 2016. On May 5, 2016, we received results indicating that elevated levels of lead have been found in six of our seven school buildings. As an immediate response, we have shut off every drinking fountain and faucet used as a source of drinking water or food preparation. These sources of water will not be made available again until the water has been re-tested and certified to be healthy. In the meantime, the district is providing bottled water and water coolers as an alternative.
Since this was a limited preliminary screening, the Bergenfield Public School District has authorized Westchester Environmental to return to the district and test every water source in each school in accordance with federal EPA standards. We will be posting updated information on our web site on this matter over the next few weeks."

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