Crisis in West Belfast drinking water
Gerry Adams will lead a Sinn Féin delegation for an urgent meeting in Castle Buildings today (7 September) with the Chief Medical Officer for the Six Counties about the pollution of the drinking water in the greater Belfast and Lisburn area which has escalated to crisis proportions.
A bug called crytosporidium has got into the drinking water supply. Many people, especially children, have already fallen sick with the bug, and it is reported that at least 100,000 people are at risk. There were 28,000 homes affected by the outbreak, by the end of last week. As yet, no supply of clean fresh water has been made available.
A warning was issued by the Department of Regional Development to people in Poleglass, West Belfast and the Dunmurry and Finaghy areas to boil their drinking water, although it is known that boiling the water eliminates only 40% of the chance of infection.
Sinn Féin councillors raised the matter at Monday' Council meeting, only to be met with denials and cover-up of the seriousness of the situation.
Crytosporidium is a tiny parasite which has the disturbing characteristic that it is resistant to filtration and chlorination, the routine ways of cleaning municipal water supply. It causes gastroitestinal illness, fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea. Children and old people are especially vulnerable, and it can be fatal in those whose immune systems are suppressed.
Sinn Féin's Six-County Environment spokesperson, South Down Assembly member Mick Murphy, has criticised the Department of the Regional development for the conditions of the Silent Valley Reservoir in the Mourne Mountains which, he says, is endangering residents of the Belfast Metropolitan area
Murphy said: ``The Department's timescale for putting in place the safe filtration system needed for the Silent Valley reservoir is totally inadequate. The current situation at the reservoir is putting at serious risk the health of people in Belfast.