Former Sebring water operator pleads no contest in lead contamin - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Former Sebring water operator pleads no contest in lead contamination case

Posted: Updated:
James Bates James Bates
SEBRING, Ohio -

The man accused of failing to promptly notify more than 8,000 residents of the Sebring area that their water may have been contaminated with lead pleaded no contest to criminal charges this afternoon in Mahoning County Court.

James Bates, 62, of Salem, the former operator of the village of Sebring’s public water system, is accused of failing to promptly notify citizens about the results of water samples tested in 2015.

Bates pleaded no contest to one count and was found guilty by the court. 

Bates was scheduled to go on trial Monday on two counts of recklessly failing to provide timely notice of individual lead tap water results to affected consumers within 30 days of receiving lab results, and one count of recklessly failing to provide timely system-wide public education within 60 days of the end of the lead and copper monitoring period.

Bates was the operator for the village of Sebring’s public water system in 2015 when the system conducted its lead and copper sampling tests required every three years.

All residents whose tap water was tested for lead were required to receive timely notification of the test results, whether or not the results showed elevated levels of lead, according to prosecutors

Some of the tests revealed elevated lead levels, which triggered a required notice to the public.

The state alleges that Bates failed to provide both types of notices within the required timeframes, in violation of Ohio’s safe drinking water laws.

The information became public in January, five months after the initial tests showed high levels of lead.

The 8,100 water customers in Sebring, Beloit, and Maple Ridge were offered free water testing. Schools supplied by Sebring were closed until the water could be deemed safe.

Some families drank bottled water for weeks. Health officials also provided blood tests to children and pregnant women concerned about exposure to lead.

The Ohio EPA conducted an investigation into why it took months before customers were notified about the high lead levels.

  • More From wfmj.comHot ClicksMore>>

  • Arizona congressman blasts siblings who endorsed opponent

    Arizona congressman blasts siblings who endorsed opponent

    Saturday, September 22 2018 11:33 PM EDT2018-09-23 03:33:15 GMT
    (AP Photo/Matt York, File). FILE - In this Dec. 2013, file photo, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., speaks during a Congressional Field Hearing on the Affordable Care Act in Apache Junction, Ariz. Six siblings of  Gosar have urged voters to cast their bal...(AP Photo/Matt York, File). FILE - In this Dec. 2013, file photo, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., speaks during a Congressional Field Hearing on the Affordable Care Act in Apache Junction, Ariz. Six siblings of Gosar have urged voters to cast their bal...
    Six siblings of U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar urged voters to cast their ballots against the Arizona Republican in November in an unusual political ad sponsored by the rival candidate.More >>
    Six siblings of U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar urged voters to cast their ballots against the Arizona Republican in November in an unusual political ad sponsored by the rival candidate.More >>
  • Vatican, China make breakthrough deal on bishop appointments

    Vatican, China make breakthrough deal on bishop appointments

    Saturday, September 22 2018 11:31 PM EDT2018-09-23 03:31:52 GMT
    The Vatican has announced a breakthrough "provisional agreement" with China on the appointment of bishops, an issue that for decades has caused tensions between the Holy See and Beijing.More >>
    The Vatican has announced a breakthrough "provisional agreement" with China on the appointment of bishops, an issue that for decades has caused tensions between the Holy See and Beijing.More >>
  • Travel still dangerous in flooded areas of North Carolina

    Travel still dangerous in flooded areas of North Carolina

    Saturday, September 22 2018 11:31 PM EDT2018-09-23 03:31:10 GMT
    (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert). A sign commemorating the rebuilding of the town of Nichols, which was flooded two years earlier from Hurricane Matthew, stands in floodwaters in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Nichols, S.C., Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. Vi...(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert). A sign commemorating the rebuilding of the town of Nichols, which was flooded two years earlier from Hurricane Matthew, stands in floodwaters in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Nichols, S.C., Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. Vi...
    A North Carolina town where a levee breached is among the latest to feel the punch of Hurricane Florence.More >>
    A North Carolina town where a levee breached is among the latest to feel the punch of Hurricane Florence.More >>
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 WFMJ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms