Water firm rapped over ‘poisoning’

Press Association

A coroner has criticised a water authority for “gambling” with the lives of 20,000 people by not telling them for more than a fortnight about Britain’s worst mass poisoning.

West Somerset Coroner Michael Rose criticised the South West Water Authority as he gave his verdict on the death of Carole Cross.

Mrs Cross, 59, died in 2004 from a rare disorder usually associated with much older people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. She had been living in the Camelford area of north Cornwall in July 1988 when the poisoning occurred.

She was one of 20,000 customers affected when a relief lorry driver mistakenly added 20,000 tonnes of aluminium sulphate to the drinking water at the Lowermoor treatment works.

The coroner recorded a lengthy narrative verdict in which he said there was a “very real possibility” that the ingestion of aluminium by Mrs Cross had contributed to her death.

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