2 indicted in tainted St. John Parish water probe
EDGARD - A St. John the Baptist Parish grand jury has indicted two parish workers for failing to properly collect and record water samples from testing sites where a brain-eating amoeba was found in the parish's water system.
The Louisiana Attorney General's office says 54-year-old Kevin Branch, of LaPlace, and 43-year-old Danielle Roussel, of Paulina, were charged Monday with malfeasance in office and filing or maintaining false public records. The charges stem from allegations the two failed to perform a duty lawfully required and falsified information on water testing logs.
They turned themselves into authorities on Tuesday and were later released on bond.
State health officials asked for the investigation after the Naegleria fowleri amoeba was found, even though records indicated chlorine levels high enough to kill it. Independent tests found chlorine levels below state standards in a water line serving 12,000 customers.
On Tuesday morning, St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie Robottom announced a press conference scheduled for Wednesday morning to discuss public water safety in the wake of the indictment. Robottom said measures will be taken to ensure the parish's water system remains safe in the future.
"In addition to the State Police investigation findings, the St. John the Baptist Parish government has been very cooperative in sharing information from their own internal investigation," said Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell. "This investigation remains ongoing as additional information comes to light."