High school's water test result falsified
Test results showing abnormally high levels of iron in a school water supply were falsified by a worker who later resigned, it has emerged.
The employee, who worked for multi-billion-pound construction and management company Carillion, tampered with a reading taken at St Peter's Church of England School in Exeter.
The company, which provides infrastructure services at six schools in the city, said the person has now resigned.
The test was carried out at St Peter's, a grant-aided state secondary school, because the school had already been suffering problems with its water supply. A reading there of almost ten times the legal limit was deliberately reduced and only discovered in January.
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Devon County Council said it was "appalled" by the company's actions.
Carillion said it was down to "a single individual".
However, a reading for iron which found 1,840 micrograms per litre was changed to 184 by an employee, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) show. The legal limit is 200 micrograms per litre. An investigation revealed metal contamination in water supplies at the other five schools run by the firm. It also found legionella, a bacteria which can cause Legionnaires' disease, in one school – West Exe College.
Students had to drink bottled water for several months after high levels of metals were found in the supply. Carillion was attempting to resolve the problem.
Carillion, which is paid to maintain the six schools under a private finance initiative (PFI), said: "Unfortunately, on this occasion, the actions of a single individual failed to meet our high standards."
The company said it replaced all drinking water fountains and maintained a supply of fresh, chilled bottled water to all of the schools.
It also said an independent testing regime was being used to identify and test for any high metal readings.
In a statement, Devon County Council said its evidence indicated no child or member of staff at the schools suffered ill health as a result of the water contamination or the legionella.
At West Exe College, the firm said it had put several procedures in place including providing portable sinks, replacing and disinfecting pipes and adding filters to reduce contamination. It added the "safety of school occupants had been paramount at all times".
The incident was found in documents given to the BBC as part of an investigation by its Inside Out South West team. It emerged following a request made under the FOI Act by the broadcaster.