Water poisoning report ‘flawed’

28 12 2007

A recent report into Britain’s worst case of water poisoning has been criticised by members of the investigating committee. The report by the Committee on Toxicity Lowermoor Sub-Group into the medical effects of the incident will be subsequently reviewed.

The incident in question occurred in 1988 when twenty tonnes of aluminium sulphate was delivered into the wrong tank at a water treatment works at Lowermoor on the edge of Bodmin Moor. People affected reported a range of health issues from brain damage and memory loss to joint problems, The report did not find a conclusive link between these illnesses and the incident. However, several recent deaths are thought to be attributed to the incident and the ill-effects it caused.

Local representatives on the committee, homeopath Peter Smith and environmental scientist Doug Cross, have said that: “Recent deaths of people exposed to the aluminium-contaminated water have called into question some of the conclusions of the committee” and have appealed to the Prime Minister for a review of the case. Mr Cross’s 58-year old wife Carole, who lived in Camelford at the time of the pollution, died in 2004 and an autopsy revealed abnormally high levels of aluminium in her brain. She suffered from a neurological disease. Irene Neal, 91, whose home was served by the Camelford water system, died in a nursing home in Buckfastleigh, south Devon, in June, and a brain autopsy carried out revealed an “unacceptable amount of aluminium in the brain”. Their views are supported by an article in the British Medical Journal, published in 1999, which said it was “highly probable” that aluminium poisoning did cause brain damage in some people.

After a trial at Exeter Crown Court in 1991, the South West Water Authority was fined £10,000 and £25,000 in court costs for supplying water likely to endanger public health. Three years later, 148 victims of the incident reached an out of court settlement, with payments ranging from £680 to £10,000.

In my opinion the water company got off very lightly for what I believe was negligence which ultimately caused ill health and death in a community.

Lowermoor works

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/cornwall/7137973.stm (11th December 2007)


‘Sickness bug in army water supply’

28 12 2007

Water supplied by C2C Services, part of Severn Trent Water, has been found to be contaminated with traces of the cryptosporidium parasite, which can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. The contaminated water is supplied to army staff and civilians at Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire. All personnel within the military area and 2,000 commercial and residential properties outside the area are affected.

An MoD spokesman said: “As a result of routine testing, traces of the parasite cryptosporidium, a tiny organism, have been detected in the water supply to Catterick Garrison. The water therefore does not meet required standard’. Health concerns lead to the closure of four schools in the Catterick area, although two other schools remained open. The MoD and health officials advised everyone within the affected area to boil all water used for drinking, cleaning teeth and food preparation. Once boiled the water is safe to drink, although people were advised to contact their GP if they felt unwell. The MoD spokeswoman went on to reassure people that they were doing everything possible to restore the ‘quality of the water supply‘ and that people would be informed as soon as it was safe to drink without boiling.

Yorkshire Water, which also supplies the Catterick area, issued a statement saying their water was not contaminated and did not require boiling before use, although many people were still cautious.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/north_yorkshire/7138676.stm

(11th December 2007)

‘Insurance ban for flood-risk homes’

2 12 2007

The risk of flooding to homes and businesses in the UK is increasing and climate change is likely to lead to an increase in river, sea and drainage flooding. In a bid to limit the flood damage to housing, the chief executive of the Environment Agency, Baroness Young, has suggested that homes built on flood plains against official advice should be refused insurance. Last year 13 ‘major developments’, including housing estates and a holiday park, were given planning permission despite being categorised as a flood risk area. This proposal would also affect government plans for 3 million new homes, up to one third of which, experts say, could be built on flood plains. In a televised interview, expert Barbara Young called on insurers to help protect properties against flooding – ‘We’d like the insurance companies to be tougher and to simply refuse to insure properties built on the flood plain against our advice.’

Dispatches revealed a leaked document from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in which officials admitted in June 2006 that flood defences were ‘severely rationed’ or turned down. The programme also found that since 2004 there have been six other major safety incidents at dams in Britain and 40 other dams have been threatened with prosecution over safety issues. The programme claims that 2,500 families affected by this summer’s floods are still living in temporary accommodation because of delays in getting insurance and repair works completed. The Association of British Insurers told Dispatches: ‘When dealing with such a huge number of claims some problems may arise. Insurers try to resolve these as quickly as possible. The industry has pledged to continue to offer flood insurance to all existing customers, providing there are adequate flood defences in place. For new customers individual insurers will decide if they are able to offer flood cover.’

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/dec/02/climatechange.householdbills?gusrc=rss (2/12/07)