State demands federal rule changes in response to Flint water crisis

RALEIGH

North Carolina’s chief environmental agency is petitioning the federal government to adopt North Carolina’s stricter reporting requirements for people who receive water from sites that test high for lead or copper. The petition sent to the federal Environmental Protection Agency today seeks to force the federal government to follow North Carolina’s example by increasing its Lead Consumer Notice requirement from 30 days to 48 hours.

“North Carolina requires water users to be notified of elevated levels of harmful elements in their water within 48 hours,” environmental secretary Donald R. van der Vaart said. “In light of the Flint crisis, we want the federal government to follow North Carolina’s example by strengthening its rule to ensure residents promptly receive notification of high lead or copper sampling results.”

North Carolina requires a special consumer notice within 48 hours for any public water sample that exceeds a certain limit for contaminants that have the potential to pose a health risk. The accelerated public notification timeframe ensures individuals receiving tap water above regulatory limits are quickly informed of the sampling results. The federal government only requires the public to be notified within 30 days.

“North Carolina is taking legal action to force the federal government to better protect consumers from unsafe drinking water,” said Sam Hayes, general counsel for the state environmental agency. “We hope the federal government will act swiftly to adopt North Carolina’s recommended changes.”

The petition, signed by Secretary van der Vaart, requests four changes to the federal Lead and Copper Rule. The state asked the federal government to respond within 90 days to the petition.

You may read a copy of the petition here.

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