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Copper poisoning triggers borehole probe

INVESTIGATIONS WERE continuing this week into why a private borehole supplying water to a settlement of elderly and disabled people in Cheshire was contaminated with 15 times the safe amount of copper.

Residents at the Barrowmore Village Settlement had been suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea, when Chester City Council discovered two weeks ago that copper levels had leapt from 3,000 micro g/l to 45,000 micro g/l.

The borehole was immediately shut down and the 200 Barrowmore residents are now connected to the mains supply.

Chester environmental health officer Bill Yates, who is heading investigations, said residents first complained of feeling unwell in November last year.

But tests on the water - which is chlorinated and softened - did not show any copper contamination until recently.

'The copper seemed to come from nowhere, ' he said. 'There was no gradual build-up.'

The council hopes investigations will reveal the source of the contamination so the borehole can reopen in the near future.

Yates added that the borehole is tested twice a year by the council. This is less regularly than public water supplies operated by water companies.

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