Lawyers Call For Lessons To Be Learned Following Outbreak That Affected Residents In Lancashire, Including A Toddler
Lawyers representing eight disgruntled United Utilities customers who suffered ill health during the water contamination incident at Franklaw water treatment works, Lancashire, in 2015 are calling for lessons to be learned after United Utilities were sentenced at court.
Specialist public health lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have been instructed to act on behalf of the group, which includes a three-year old boy who fell ill as a toddler after drinking the contaminated tap water, during the cryptosporidium outbreak following the parasite being found at Franklaw water treatment works on 6th August 2015.
Cryptosporidium is a parasite which can cause cryptosporidiosis if ingested. It is a leading cause of human gastrointestinal infection in the UK, and is most common in children who are aged between one and five.
United Utilities had been prosecuted over the contamination by the Drinking Water Inspectorate, which claimed the outbreak had affected approximately 700,000 people in the area.
Today, at Preston Crown Court, the water supplier was fined £300,000 and sentenced to pay £150,000 in costs.
Clare Comiskey, a Public Health specialist at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors who is representing the group and has vast experience of handling gastric illness outbreak cases in the UK such as acting for almost 300 people who were infected by the norovirus after visiting the Toby Carvery Exeter Arms in April 2015, said:
Expert Opinion“We welcome today’s sentencing and the holding of United Utilities to account. The discovery of the parasite in the water was extremely concerning.
“Drinking unsafe water can have a profound effect on a person’s health and can cause long-term issues, from which some victims may never fully recover. Protecting the general public from outbreaks like these has to be the main priority for companies like United Utilities.
“Cryptosporidium can have serious health implications for those affected and in our work we have seen first-hand the long-term issues that it can cause from which some victims may sadly never fully recover.
“We are working with our clients to ensure they get the answers they deserve as to how the cryptosporidium parasite came to be present in the tap water.” Clare Comiskey - Legal Executive - Associate
Milo Valente, three from Blackpool, fell ill in March 2015 after drinking the contaminated water as a toddler. He was diagnosed with cryptosporidium, but unaware of the contamination, Milo continued to be given tap water by his mother Carley, 33, and he suffered from diarrhoea and weight loss.
Carley, a teaching assistant, said: “Today’s sentencing is a positive step. It is good to see a water supplier being held accountable for its mistake.
“It was heartbreaking to see Milo suffer like he did when he was a toddler due to his cryptosporidium diagnosis. Like all new mums, one of my biggest fears was Milo being upset and poorly, and when I had to endure this it was worse than I ever imagined.
“Like the many other people affected by the outbreak, we just can’t understand how it was allowed to happen in the first place.”
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