Drinking water news: Fluoride – Hightstown – Fluoride investigation continues.

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Aug 25

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Originally Published
Friday, April 6, 2012 3:38 PM EDT

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Contaminated drinking water news:

Hightstown: Fluoride investigation continues.

The Borough Council launched an investigation March 19 to ascertain why residents were not told until recently that fluoride had been discontinued from the drinking water supply since September 2010.

Two weeks later, one council member called for that investigation to stop.

“I would like to formally request that the investigation into ‘who did what wrong’ be abandoned,” Councilwoman Selena Bibens said at the April 2 council meeting.

Council Members Susan Bluth and Robert Thibault are leading the investigation.

“It seems the conspiracy theory of ‘what else are they hiding’ will just cause panic and distrust among residents and borough employees. We cannot continue to operate this way,” Ms. Bibens said.

Further, she said that field inspector Larry Hajna, of the Department of Environmental Protection, had taken responsibility for the lack of action in the notification process to the residents. Residents were notified in late March via an alert posted on the borough’s website that fluoridation of the water had stopped 18 months prior.

Said Mayor Steven Kirson, “I requested from our water operator our monthly reports from the DEP and made copies for each of our council members to take a look at. It was reported and . . .”

“Mr. Mayor,” interrupted Councilman Thibault as Business Administrator Michael Theokas handed out copies of the reports to council. “I’m sorry if I interrupted, at the last council meeting, Councilwoman Bluth and I were given authority to conduct an investigation and we requested these reports along with a number of other items last week and had not even gotten the courtesy of a response. And we tried to schedule interviews with (the Hightstown Water Treatment Plant staff) and they refused.”

“They didn’t refuse, they referred (the meeting to another time). Be careful with your words,” Mayor Kirson countered.

Mayor Kirson said that the employees were only notified on Wednesday for a meeting they were expected to attend on Friday.

Council President Larry Quattrone said that the concern should reach a decision of whether the town should return to fluoridation or remain fluoride-free.

Throughout March, the Herald reported that Hightstown’s field inspector did not realize that the cessation of fluoridation in a New Jersey public drinking water supply triggered public notification which is required through the Bureau of Safe Drinking Water.

“Is council satisfied with the information that was published in the press and the information provided and able to go forward or do you want to continue on with the investigation slash inquiry?” Mayor Kirson asked.

Said Councilwoman Gail Doran, “The committee was appointed to investigate or inquire, whatever you want to call it . . . Having authorized (it) I find it very disturbing that that committee was stone-walled.”

Councilwoman Bluth agreed. “We have been stone-walled which sort of makes my wheels spin,” she said. “We also have a duty to the taxpayers, to the voters of Hightstown. We probably will end up coming out and saying there was a failure of communication between the two. We need to in good conscience be able to say that.”

A decision was made by council members to continue on with the investigation.

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