Hull, Quebec Tainted Water Warning : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread


Wednesday, July 12, 2000

Tainted water warning in Hull


Fearing another Walkerton disaster and cover-up, angry residents of Hull's north-end demanded answers last night after learning their water may be contaminated.

But it wasn't the sickness-causing coliform in the water supply that had many in the Hautes-Plaines area outraged -- it was the lack of warning.

After the Outaouais public health department found small amounts of the bacteria in a water sample taken from one building, city officials yesterday notified radio and television stations hoping to get the word out.

But many of the residents living in the 600 homes affected by the 48-hour boil order hadn't heard the news by 7 p.m., more than five hours after the department received the test results.

"The news is not getting out," said expectant mom Melanie Robert, who only learned of the danger at a local convenience store. "When you're pregnant, it's very, very scary."

No letters have been distributed and none are planned.

Sophie Jacob was one of the lucky few who heard the radio warning.

"What scares me most is ... what if we didn't listen to the news today."

Jacob, like many of her neighbours, believes city officials should have been more vigilant in their warning in the wake of Walkerton's water troubles. Up to 21 people may have died from E. coli-tainted water that poured out of Walkerton taps in May.

But city Coun. Louise Poirier said Hull officials did everything required by law. She said officials don't believe there's any contamination, but the sample itself may have been tainted.


"We believe it's someone's dirty hands touching the sample bottle."

Officials said the level of coliform found in the water was so low those drinking it wouldn't suffer any permanent damage.

"Some people would have diarrhea and vomiting for about 24 hours," said Dr. Jacques Boissinot of the health department. "It would be the same as (a) flu caused by a virus. You are not going to die."

Boissinot said the water is fine for bathing and washing dishes, but people should boil it for five minutes before drinking it.

-- Rachel Gibson (, July 12, 2000

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