Concern grows that lead crisis could spread

An EPA takeover is one of the many things a New Jersey lawmaker is asking of Governor Phil Murphy as Newark’s lead water crisis grows worse.  

Assemblyman Jamel Holley reportedly wrote a letter to the Governor asking him to declare a state of emergency. 

“Newark, it's suburbs, or the entire State of New Jersey cannot afford the public image that has befallen Flint, Michigan,” reported “I am pleading and suggesting to you as the Governor of this great State that a State of Emergency be called.”

Outside of an emergency declaration Assemblyman Holley is also asking Governor Murphy to dispatch the National Guard to handle the distribution of bottled water.

The plea comes as concerns grow that people living in neighboring cities and towns could be impacted by the lead water crisis, too. 

The Pequannock Treatment Plant failed to prevent lead from corroding off lead pipes and leeching into the water. It services nearby places like Bloomfield, Belleville, Hillside and Nutley.

 "No one wants anybody to have lead in their system," said Joseph Scarpelli, Mayor of Nutley.  "It's very bad for young children, and we are offering free lead tests for any children in Nutley, in that area. In fact, the whole town if anybody wants to get tested."

Newark’s lead levels spiked in 2017, but last week the city started handing out more than 70,000 cases of bottled water after the EPA tested three PUR water filters and noticed two weren’t removing enough lead from the water.

 Federal, state and city officials say they’re conducting more testing to determine why the filters failed. 

Newark’s Mayor Ras Baraka says residents will have to be using bottled water for at least another month. 

Nutley’s mayor though insists their water is safe.  “We're very confident that the Pur water filter does work even though what happened in Newark is a different situation,” said Scarpelli.