GWI misleads Govt on water treatment system

first_imgPublic Health Minister, Dr George Norton is insisting that the Guyana Water Incorporation (GWI) denied using the controversial water purification chemical, Antinfek, in its treatment of water for public distribution; however, internal records prove that it has been used in wells at Diamond and the Soesdyke, Linden Highway, East Bank Demerara (EBD); and Bartica, in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni).Dr Norton told Guyana Times that when he contacted the water company to respond to the mounting concerns on its use of the disputable chemical, officials assured him that the substance is not being used for water treatment purposes, but is being used for testing.The Minister said he is satisfied with the explanation and has no reason to distrust the information proffered by GWI.“They are not using it to purify the water. As far as the information I got from GWI, the public is not at risk (and) I would have no reason to doubt the integrity of the officials of GWI,” he stated.Internal recordsBut internal records seen by this publication confirm that the chemical is being used to treat water in at least three majorly populated areas in the country.Minutes of meetings during March 2016 show that the Antinfek chemical will be used for new wells in several communities in Bartica.The documents from another meeting in June 2016 indicate that the well at the Linden/Soesdyke Highway will be dosed with Antinfek. In fact, the internal communications illustrate that dosing pumps were being procured for the dosing of the Antinfek chemical in the well.Additionally, the records from a July 2016 meeting show that the well at Diamond, EBD, is also being dosed with the Antinfek chemical to treat the water.Subsequently however, the Executive Director of Operations said he ceased using the Antinfek chemical to treat the water at Diamond after the Water Quality Manager indicated that the laboratory cannot test and monitor the chemical.During that meeting, the Managing Director somewhat disregarded the concerns of the Water Quality Manager, saying that she should conduct research on the use of the chemical since it is used in medical supplies across the world.At this point, officials at GWI were aware that the chemical being used to treat water wells across the country was questionable.The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) on Monday ordered the GWI to halt the usage of this chemical but Guyana Times was unable to ascertain whether the water company will be complying with this order since it has not publicly acknowledged that the chemical is being used.Efforts to solicit a comment from the GWI’s Managing Director, Dr Richard Van West-Charles on these unfolding events proved futile since he indicated his unavailability to speak because he was in a meeting when contacted at two intervals throughout the day.In its public missive on the issue, GWI said it is still using the sole disinfecting agent in all the treatment plants, while laboratory studies are being done on the use of other treatment alternatives.GWI argued that it was found that the residual concentration of chlorine has a short life span, thus it does not protect the water from re-contamination during prolonged storage.It noted that testing is being done on the chemical Antinfek but clearly from the internal communications, the substance is being used to treat water.AntinfekAntinfek is manufactured by Dovebiotech Group of Companies which describes the chemical as a powerful organic bio-polymerbased compound, effective in decontamination of water against waterborne diseases, bacterium and fungi.Internal communications show that the GWI Scientific Services Manager outlined that research suggests that the chemical was not recommended for approval for household water treatment distribution in Haiti, which had no US National Sanitary Foundation (NFS) certification for potable water use.Guyana Times understands that a Dove Biotech representative claimed that Antinfek was “approved for sale in Guyana by the Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals Control Board of Guyana”. However, the Registrar at the PTCCB indicated to GWI by email that “records at the PTCCB do not show a registration/approval for this product.”Notably, the importation of this chemical requires approval by the PTCCB under the law.last_img

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