Lawsuit demands Philadelphia replace lead service pipes, more transparency on water supply

    Lewes residents have been alerted about elevated lead levels in their drinking water. (WHYY file)

    Lewes residents have been alerted about elevated lead levels in their drinking water. (WHYY file)

    A West Philadelphia resident contends the city has covered up high levels of water contamination, putting her family and others at risk for lead poisoning. She’s part of a lawsuit, filed this week, that’s seeking class action status.

    The suit alleges the city has known for years that construction projects and water main repairs have broken into lead service pipes, contaminating residential drinking water.

    Beth Fegan, an attorney for plaintiff Eleni Delopoulos, said Delopoulos raised red flags when the city started repairing a water main by her house. Her 2-year-old was nearby as the work commenced.

    “Her son was playing at a construction site in the dirt, where the work was being done,” Fegan said. “And actually a city worker approached her and told her to keep her son away because they were cutting into the lead pipes, and dirt where he was playing was contaminated with lead.”

    The child is now being tested for lead, according to Fegan. The suit also alleges the city is manipulating lead testing results to play down the high levels of lead in water. And it asks for a citywide medical monitoring program and the replacement of any lead pipes leading into homes.

    City officials aren’t commenting while they review the case, but in the past, officials have said water mains are lead-free and that residents are responsible for the pipe lines going into their homes.

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