Liberal Democrat Dan Rogerson has said that continuing scientific research into the 1988 Lowermoor water poisoning incident must be a priority for the next Government and the next Parliament after the General Election.
Mr Rogerson vowed that if he is re-elected as North Cornwall’s MP he would make it his priority to keep up the pressure on the Department for Health to deliver the promised research into the effects of the poisoning incident on residents who were living in North Cornwall or visiting the area at the time of the incident, including those in the womb.
The Lowermoor water pollution incident subgroup of the Department for Health’s Committee Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment, which was set up in 2001 to investigate the poisoning, reported in spring 2013. It recommended that further scientific research be carried out in to those who were exposed to the contaminated water.
Dan Rogerson had requested a meeting with the Department for Health before the General Election so that he and Lowermoor Support Group members could make sure that the further scientific research was being undertaken and was on track.
Public Health Minister Jane Ellison declined to meet campaigners, saying that it would be better to meet when “there are further developments to report”.
Commenting, Dan Rogerson said:
“The Department for Health’s Lowermoor report concluded that it was unlikely that exposure to the aluminium has caused no delayed or persistent harm, but the local representatives resigned before the report was published. However, the report did recommend that further research be carried out.
“Families and individuals who have been affected or think they may have been affected by the water poisoning deserve answers and information about how the incident could be continuing to affect their health today.
“I am determined to make sure that the Department for Health to conduct the further scientific research and studies that the report suggested need to be carried out in order to get the bottom of any long-term impact on the health of people that could have been exposed to the contaminated water.”
Following meetings with Dan Rogerson, in September 2013, the then Public Health Minister Anna Soubry and Environment Minister Richard Benyon apologised on behalf of government to all those affected by the Lowermoor Water Poisoning in July 1988.
The Ministers said in a letter to Dan Rogerson that
- “the incident was serious and unprecedented in its nature and the water authority was slow to recognise what had gone wrong and communicate this to the local public health authorities in the first instance so they could take action”
- There had been “a manifest failure to give prompt appropriate advice and information to affected consumers, local journalists and government officials”
- and concluded that, “In light of the findings of the various investigations into the Lowermoor Water Incident we, on behalf of Government, unreservedly apologise to your constituents.”
The apology came after years of campaigning for investigations into the incident by victims, residents, the Lowermoor Support Group, and Lib Dem campaigners in Parliament Dan Rogerson and his predecessor Lord (Paul) Tyler.
Dan Rogerson also said that he would push for Parliament to hold an inquiry into the incident and the ongoing health issues for victims. The House of Commons Health Select Committee has given an indication that it would be willing to investigate the issue if time could be found to do so.