An Ontario court has fined the Municipality of West Elgin and three of its water distribution system operators a total of $193,125 for failing to maintain and document adequate chlorine levels in drinking water. The court has also sentenced the lead operator to 30 days in jail. Continue reading
Ontario Premier Mike Harris survived his appearance yesterday before the Walkerton inquiry. More than survived: He triumphed. Facing an orchestrated ambush by smirking union lawyers, hired activists and placard-carrying demonstrators, Mr. Harris rose so far above the low politically motivated smears of his prosecutors that many citizens of Ontario must now be wondering about the validity of the Harris caricature they have been fed for most of the past year.
Energy Probe Research Foundation’s submission to the Walkerton Inquiry’s Expert Meeting on Guiding Principles for Drinking Water Safety explores the critical role played by legal liability in risk management.
The first anniversary of the Walkerton, Ont., water tragedy is approaching. Already the professional groundskeepers of public opinion are raking the town for the official laying of the blame ceremonies. They appear to have narrowed it down to two culprits, the Harris cutbacks and privatization. Despite overwhelming evidence that Walkerton is the product of gross inadequacies inherent in public sector ownership and major instances of individual public employee incompetence, opinion nevertheless appears to have gelled around the cheap political conclusions.
Last May, a deadly strain of E. coli bacteria contaminated the water system in Walkerton, Ontario. A testing lab informed the Public Utilities Commission of the contamination, but, inexplicably, the PUC withheld the information from both the public and the government for the following five days. Not until the medical officer of health, alarmed by the soaring cases of bloody diarrhea in the town, conducted independent tests did the PUC confess its dirty secret. The information came too late: The contaminated water killed six people and sickened 2,000.
The judge looking into the contamination of this town’s water supply made it clear in a ruling yesterday he wants to be sure the people most affected are heard.
Three fatal errors by Ontario’s government led to the Walkerton water tragedy that has left at least five dead and more than 1,000 infected over the past week. The government failed to prevent the pollution of the water supply. It failed to prevent the distribution of polluted water. And it failed to recognize that the private sector can handle municipal water supply more competently and safely than the public sector.