MPs to meet Public Health Minister over Camelford water poisoning
Cornwall MPs are to meet with Public Health Minister Anna Soubry tomorrow to press for help for victims of the 1988 Lowermoor water poisoning.
A long-awaited report into the long-term health effects of the incident which hit the Camelford area of North Cornwall almost 25 years ago was published last month.
The Government-appointed committee concluded it was "unlikely" that the pollution, caused when 20 tons of highly acidic aluminium sulphate was dumped directly into the water supply at the Lowermoor water treatment works on Bodmin Moor, had "caused delayed or persistent harm to health among local people".
But it admitted that gaps in scientific knowledge meant the effects on neurological health, the development of unborn babies at the time of the incident and those under a year old, warranted studies.
The committee, which was first set up in 2001, also recommended further analysis of cancer and mortality rates.
North Cornwall MP Dan Rogerson, his predecessor Lord Tyler and Truro and Falmouth MP Sarah Newton have secured a meeting with the Minister tomorrow.
Mr Rogerson said: "I have been contacted by several families and individuals who have been affected or think they may have been affected by the water-poisoning incident – after 25 years these people deserve answers about what really happened at the time, and about how the poisoning could be continuing to affect their health today.
"This report did not go far enough, as we suspected it wouldn't.
"I am determined to make sure that the people of North Cornwall finally get answers about which people in authority at the time were responsible for the cover-up that happened in the days following the contamination.
"I will also be making it clear to the minister that this Government must commit – as a matter of priority – to conduct the further scientific research and studies that the report suggests should now be carried out in order to get to the bottom of any long-term impact on the health of people that could have been exposed to the contaminated water."
The Lowermoor Sub Group of the Committee on Toxicity was set up by then-environment minister Michael Meacher in 2001 and a disputed draft report was published in 2005. The final version of the document was delayed by the inquest into the death of Carole Cross – the wife of Lowermoor campaigner Doug Cross – who died in 2004 aged 59 from a rare neurological disease usually associated with Alzheimer's.
West Somerset coroner Michael Rose concluded that there was a "very real possibility" that the ingestion of aluminium by Mrs Cross had contributed to her death.
Further concerns have been raised after the WMN revealed last week that Richard Gibbons, from Tintagel, had also been found to have "high levels" of aluminium in his brain. His death, at the age of 60 in 2010, is also being investigated by Mr Rose.
"The two people tested for brain aluminium levels, Carole Cross and now Richard Gibbons, have shown high levels of aluminium in their brain tissue," Phil Reed, Mr Gibbons' son-in-law, said. "We will continue to pursue the facts behind Richard's symptoms to establish if there is a chance the 1988 incident was responsible for them and as a consequence of the symptoms his death."