How I am supporting residents affected by reports of water toxicity
Following the revelations in The Guardian that Cambridge Water had detected high levels of a toxic chemical known as Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) in the water supply at a borehole in Duxford, I continue to press for answers on this issue and provide updates when I have them.
I remain deeply concerned that residents may have been subject to a release of contaminated water. Moreover, I am appalled at the conduct of Cambridge Water in letting this incident happen. The secrecy around how many people were affected and the impact on our precious aquifer is unacceptable. Having worked hard when the news first broke to ensure residents are reassured that their water supply is safe, I was equally astonished to discover that members of South Cambridgeshire District Council's Cabinet, including the leader, have had knowledge of the issue for some time and chose not to make residents aware.
It is important to stress that every indication continues to show that drinking water is safe in South Cambridgeshire. I will continue to press for answers and ensure lessons are learned, while awaiting feedback from the two investigations launched following my campaign.
So far, I have
- worked to ensure residents' questions were answered and reassured constituents of the safety of their drinking water.
- received a letter from Cambridge Water offering residents reassurance that their water is safe to drink
- Spoke directly to Andy Willicot, the Managing Director of Cambridge Water, on the day of reports to receive his assurances and push him to be transparent with inquiries.
- spoke with and later met the Water Minister, to discuss the issues when the discharge was first reported
- wrote to and met with the Secretary of State for the Environment, to ensure lessons were learned by regulators and companies following the incident
- written to Cllr Smith, the Lib Dem Leader at SCDC, to confirm that her administration was not only aware of the detection of toxins but also actively working with Cambridge Water to agree on a communications strategy.
- written to and met with the Drinking Water Inspectorate, who are currently carrying out an investigation into the reports
- Spoke with Marcus Rink, the Chief Inspector of Drinking Water for England and Wales
- written to the Director of Public Health for Cambridgeshire, who also agreed to open an investigation
I have already had multiple meetings and contacts with Ministers, including the Secretary of State, as well as with Cambridge Water, the Drinking Water Inspectorate, and the Cambridgeshire Public Health Directorate. This has led to the launch of two investigations, one by the Director of Public Health and another by the Drinking Water Inspectorate. I am urging of the most stringent investigatory methods and, if any breach of regulation is found, the harshest possible sanctions.