Politicians’ water was tainted by toxin

editorial image

Contaminated water at Stormont Castle that leading Derry talks negotiators such as SDLP leader Colum Eastwood and DUP MP Gregory Campbell, among others, were warned not to drink last year contained a highly toxic chemical that can be used to make antifreeze and radiator fluid.

Last year as the main political parties and the Dublin and London governments held talks to restore power-sharing, the Northern Ireland Executive Office warned local politicians, diplomats and party apparatchiks not to drink the tap water.

“Restrictions on the use of tap water have been put in place as a precautionary measure pending investigation of possible contamination of the water supply,” the office reported following the incident in April 2017.

The ‘Journal’ can now reveal that the contaminant in question was ethylene glycol, which if ingested can damage the heart and the kidneys and can kill if consumed in sufficient quantities.

The nature of the contaminant was revealed in Northern Ireland Water’s Drinking Water Quality Report for 2017 that was put before Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Health and Community Committee this month.

The contamination incident was described as a “significant event” that occurred between April 12, 2017, and May 12, 2017.

“This event was not related to the quality of water supplied by NI Water.

“After the installation of a new chiller unit by an external contractor, backflow occurred which introduced ethylene glycol into the drinking water system.

“This event occurred due to non-compliance with the Water Fittings Regulations. There was local media interest,” the report explained.