Editorial: More answers and accountability needed

One would not blame Ian Inkson if he felt a certain amount of frustration as news of the gastro crisis in Havelock North was unfolding last year.

For those of you who don't know, Ian Inkson was a public health officer who wrote a letter 15 years ago to warn the Hawke's Bay Regional Council and Hastings District Council of concerns he had over the potential contamination of Brookevale Bore 2.

We featured a story on the front page of the paper yesterday in which Mr Inkson spoke about the fact that he did not receive a reply from either council.

So when it began emerging in August last year that a large number of people (5500 in the end) were very ill, Mr Inkson could have been forgiven for thinking: "I told you so." He told us this week that the inquiry, which released its findings last week, is "justice being served".

In his email of August 8, 2002, Mr Inkson said he wished to "lay a complaint about a bore which in my interpretation contravenes rule 3 (P 150) of the proposed plan. This is in that it is potentially allowing leakage of contamination from the surface down into the aquifer through an insecure control cable duct".

He went on to ask what the regional council proposed to do about the situation. Neither council has a record of the email.

Now, there is no question that emails do go missing at times and this is especially true in big organisations, but the tone of Mr Inkson's email should have been enough to indicate that urgent action was warranted.

The sad thing is that if action had been taken following the email, other insecure bores would have been discovered.

Let's hope the second phase of the inquiry provides a whole lot more answers to stop this happening again.

There also needs to be some accountability.

- Hawkes Bay Today


By Andrew Austin

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Drinking Water Havelock North