Thanet resident Richard Card is a retired electrical engineer and was the over 40s national Wales powerlifting champion 1992.
The grandfather has Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) from lung damage caused while in the Army Coldstream Guard Air Platoon in 1970.
Here he looks at his concerns related to Thanet’s water supply which he has been researching for many years:
People are saddened by this week’s news that judicial reviews, against the NHS decision making process denying QEQM its own specialist stroke unit, have failed.
There is also sad news about maternity unit tragedies at QEQM. HM Coroner has made a preliminary examination in one loss and is to decide whether to hold full inquest as an “Article 2” inquest and with jury. I hope HM Coroner does this. The wider ranging Article 2 Inquest looks more at a broader context of hazards to life. It examines whether the state failed in its duties to protect life and lessons to be learned.
NHS planning is governed by the Health and Social Care Act 2012. It creates reporting duties for local authorities. Of particular interest must be the duty to report environmental hazards to health.
To my mind there is a welcome development as protesters, against possible habitat destruction for housing development at Poorhole Lane, broadened their concerns to include the massive remediation project over 12 years that recovered 470 tonnes of leaked cyclohexanone from Poorhole Lane chalk strata. The leak had lasted for a suspected 30 years from 1963 to 1993 and the total amount has never been calculated. 470 tonnes was the size of the residue.
Rumfields Drinking Water Abstraction Plant was switched off in 1993 upon discovery of the leak. It is my belief, based on all the evidence I have seen, that for 30 years an undetermined amount of this solvent was contaminating drinking water.
Incredibly, it seems to me, the local authority wedded itself to the view that when (AND IF !) the contaminated site is remediated all the people who (presumably) drank the water for 30 years have been miraculously healed. The idea of legacy impact on public health seems to me to be alien to the echelons at Cecil Square. And hence they don’t take the view it is their statutory duty to report it to NHS for expert examination and incorporation in NHS planning factors.
In 2007 the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) issued warnings about the persistent residue of firefighting foam PFOA. This is on the United Nations list of “Persistent Organic Pollutants” – The Stockholm Convention. The warning light was there. Manston aquifer was a source of Thanet drinking water but it can be seen from freedom of information answers that Southern Water has never tested the site for PFOA.
Last year I called in DEFRA Drinking Water Inspectorate who told me “Southern Water do have a treatment works which abstracts water from the aquifer below Manston. However, this treatment works has been out of supply for quite a few years due to having high level of nitrate in the source water and the company being able to maintain local supplies without using it.
“We (Defra) will require an updated risk assessment (and sampling data to back it up) if the company put the site back into supply. This is a regulatory requirement (Regulation 15) and the company are aware of this.”
Among the many hazards to health of PFOA, as I understand them, are stroke risk and pre-eclampsia risk.
I have asked Kent County Council Health and Well Being Scrutiny Committee to put this on the agenda for discussion in March when they meet to discuss the maternity tragedies. The local authorities have powers under the Health and Social Care Act 2012 to raise their own expert inquiries for onward report to NHS planning.
I have also reported to HM Coroner.