Round-the-Clock Patrols Planned for Water Plant

Almost a year after a worker was killed at a Totowa water treatment plant, the Passaic Valley Water Commission has hired the Passaic County Sheriff's Department to patrol the facility full time.

The two-year contract calls for the deployment of eight armed officers to provide around-the-clock security at an annual cost of $650,000, PVWC Executive Director Joseph A. Bella said Wednesday.

The officers will guard both the interior and exterior of the plant and also will patrol other PVWC sites, he said. Sheriff's Department officers were already providing security at the plant on a per-diem basis, Bella said.

In February 2005, Geetha Angara, 43, a senior chemist at the plant, was found dead in an underground water tank, authorities said at the time.

Later police investigators theorized that Geetha was pushed by one of her co-workers. No arrests have been made in the case, but about 50 co-workers on duty the day of the murder were tested for DNA.

"It's an unsolved murder," Bella said. "We felt that the right thing to do was to have armed guards."

Before the murder, the plant had an external security guard but little internal surveillance. In the past year, other security measures, such as issuing ID cards for visitors, and key cards systems, have been installed.

Workers have been asked to pair up for some jobs. A new fence was put up around the property.

Bella said that the plant also was stepping up security because of safety concerns raised after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.