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Two Fined For Coloring Water Purple

February 18, 1987

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Two men who said they were protesting lax security at a municipal water plant were fined $350 each and placed on two years’ probation for dying the water purple.

″Luckily since the water was purple, it was not consumed,″ said Lee Ann Sinagoga, Allegheny County Health Department environmental health administrator.

″The potential for harm was there,″ she told Judge Patrick McFalls.

John Krivacek, 32, and David Nicklis, 30, both of Duquesne and employees of the water department, admitted dumping 103 pounds of potassium permanganate into a well at the Duquesne water plant Sept. 15. They were sentenced on charges of tampering with a public water supply and criminal mischief.

They explained their actions as an effort to draw attention to the potential for sabotage at the plant, which lies within the gates of the closed Duquesne Works of USX Corp.

Both men were fired. As part of their probation they must perform 50 hours of community service.

Residents began complaining within hours of the contamination, and the lines were soon flushed.

Potassium permanganate is used to remove dissolved iron, but in concentrations of 168 million parts per million or greater it can be toxic, said Ms. Sinagoga. She estimated the concentration in Duquesne to be 150 parts per million.

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