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Walkerton: Sentencing the Koebels

In May 2000, bacteria seeped into Walkerton's town well. The deadly E. coli then slipped quietly through a maze of pipes and into the homes of Walkerton, Ont. Unsuspecting residents thirstily drank the polluted water and bathed in their bacteria-ridden tubs. But soon after, they began experiencing common symptoms of infection; bloody diarrhea and throbbing cramps. Seven people would eventually die and another 1286 would fall ill. The investigation which followed exposed an alarmingly unstable waterworks system made fragile by government cuts.

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"I trust less and I fear more," says Janice King in her victim impact statement, excerpted in this CBC Radio feature. King, who lost her mother in the Walkerton tainted water epidemic, spoke at the Koebel brothers' criminal trial. Stan and Frank Koebel will be sentenced on the criminal charge of common nuisance next week; both have pleaded guilty.

Walkerton residents have mixed feelings about the case. Some say that the Koebels must be held accountable for their misdoings. But still, others insist that the police investigation was "farcical." They insist that the government covered up its involvement and culpability and made scapegoats of the Koebel brothers. 
• Stan and Frank Koebel were the only people to face criminal charges. Some Walkerton residents were outraged that more people weren't charged with criminal offences.

• On April 24, 2001, Walkerton's local town council approved a controversial buyout package for disgraced former Public Utilities Manager Stan Koebel.

• On Dec. 20, 2004, Stan Koebel was sentenced to one year in jail. Frank Koebel was sentenced to nine months of house arrest.

• In April 2005, it was announced Stan Koebel would be granted parole and released from prison after serving less than four months of his sentence.
Medium: Radio
Program: The Current
Broadcast Date: Dec. 17, 2004
Guest(s): Charlie Bagnato, Carol Barkley, Bruce Davidson, Janice King
Host: Catherine Gretsinger
Duration: 22:03

Last updated: July 11, 2013

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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