Water contamination: Gastro hearing next week

By Victoria White

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The contamination of Havelock North's water supply led to more than 5000 people being affected by campylobactor. PHOTO/FILE
The contamination of Havelock North's water supply led to more than 5000 people being affected by campylobactor. PHOTO/FILE

The Government inquiry into the Havelock North water contamination is soon to be under way, with a public hearing held next week.

The independent inquiry was announced in September, after the widespread gastro outbreak in Havelock North.

During August, E.coli in the suburb's water supply caused about 5200 people to become ill and two elderly women, with underlying medical conditions, died while sick with campylobactor.

Anyone can attend an initial public hearing on the contamination, held at Hastings District Court next Thursday.

Its purpose is to take appearances from interested parties on preliminary and procedural matters, including the designation of parties as "core participants" under s17 of the Inquiries Act 2013.

Substantive issues would be dealt with at a later date.

Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule said he was pleased the hearing, and the formal part of the inquiry would be starting soon.

"We need to get to the bottom of this, and I'm pleased that part of it is soon to be under way," he said.

A team from the inquiry had met with members from the Hastings District Council last week.

The inquiry will focus on how the contamination occurred, how this was addressed, and how local and central government agencies responded to the public health outbreak that occurred as a result of the contamination.

It will also examine how to reduce the risk of outbreaks of this nature recurring, and consider any necessary changes to prevent or minimise similar incidents in the future.

Chairing it will be retired Court of Appeal judge, the Honourable Lyn Stevens, QC. Justice Stevens will be joined on the panel by NZQA CEO and former Director-General of Health, Dr Karen Poutasi CNZM, and local government and engineering expert, Anthony Wilson.

The inquiry will report back by March 31, 2017.

- The public hearing will be held at 10am, Thursday, October 27, at Hastings District Court, 106 Eastbourne St West, Hastings.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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