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Pollution incidents have affected the world in such ways as water pollution and air pollution incidents have killed 100s of people for example the Camelford water pollution incident. The Camelford water pollution incident was a man-made disaster it involved the accidental contamination of the drinking water supply to the town of Camelford, Cornwall, in July 1988. Twenty tons of aluminum sulphate was inadvertently added to the water supply, raising the concentration to 3,000 times the admissible level. As the aluminum sulphate broke down it produced several tons of sulphuric acid which stripped a lot of different chemicals from the pipe networks as well as lead and copper piping in people’s homes. Many people who came into contact with the contaminated water experienced a range of short-term health effects and many victims suffered long-term effects whose implications remained unclear as of 2012.
There has been no rigorous examination or monitoring of the health of the victims since the incident which is Britain’s worst mass poisoning event. Inquests on people who died many years later found very high levels of aluminum in the brain.
Dame Barbara Clayton led a Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution enquiry into the incident. Immediately after the contamination the authorities said that the water was safe to drink, possibly with juice to cover the unpleasant taste. In an inquest in 2012 into the death of one of the victims, the coroner stated that South West Water Authority had been gambling with as many as 20,000 lives when they failed to inform the public about the poisoning for 16 days, a delay he called unacceptable. In the aftermath of the contamination the public were reassured that there was no risk to health. There were allegations of a cover-up and West Somerset Coroner Michael Rose stated: I found there was a deliberate policy to not advise the public of the true nature until some 16 days after the occurrence of the incident. Following an investigation by the government’s Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment, Michael Meacher, the former Environment Minister, claimed that “various associated bodies tried to bury the inquiry from the start. Meacher told one newspaper: “This has become a tug of war between the truth and an attempt to silence the truth.
An April 2013 report by the Lowermoor subgroup of the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food Consumer Products and the Environment concluded that exposure to the chemicals was unlikely to cause delayed or persistent harm” and was also unlikely to cause future ill health.
In September 2013 the government admitted that there had been a “manifest failure to give prompt appropriate advice and information to affected consumers” and offered an unreserved apology.
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