Two workers at a water treatment plant contaminated Duquesne's water supply with an irritant to show that cutbacks in security had left the plant vulnerable, police said Wednesday.
John Krivecek, 31, and David Nicklis, 30, both of Duquesne, were arrested Tuesday after officials received complaints from residents that their water had turned purple, Allegheny County Police Supt. Robert Kroner said.
Krivecek and Nicklis were charged with risking a catastrophe and recklessly endangering others for dumping huge quantities of potassium permanganate into the water, Kroner said. They were released on their own recognizance.
The chemical is used in small quantities to remove iron solids. County health officials said that it could irritate mucous membranes but that the system had been largely flushed out by Tuesday night.
Police Lt. Richard Michaels said the men admitted contaminating the water to protest Duquesne's elimination of 24-hour guards under austerity measures.