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Walkerton: 'We're ready to move on'

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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"We're ready to move on," says history teacher Jamie Smith in this CBC Television news report. Smith spearheaded Walkerton's class-action lawsuit. After rejecting an initial provincial settlement, the residents have at long last received what they deem an acceptable deal. Each of the 5,000 townspeople will receive a minimum of $2,000. Those who were seriously ill, suffered a death in the family or incurred substantial damages may file for a higher claim. 
. Under the open-ended agreement, all Walkerton residents and affected visitors to the region at the time of the epidemic were entitled to $2,000.
. The Canadian Press reported that the total settlement would be worth approximately $50 million. The plaintiffs had hoped to receive a $250 million payout in general and punitive damages. — the Lethbridge Herald, Feb. 2, 2001

. The 13 defendants in the class-action suit included the province of Ontario, the municipality of Brockton, the Public Utilities Commission, the Regional Health Unit, water-testing laboratories and the farmer whose manure runoff seeped into Well 5. The defendants' insurance companies will pay for the first $17 million in claims and $4 million in legal costs. The Ontario government will absorb the rest of the costs associated with the settlement.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Feb. 1, 2001
Guest(s): Jamie MacDonald, Paul Morrison, Jamie Smith, Harvey Strosberg
Host: Alison Smith
Reporter: Raj Ahluwalia
Duration: 3:08

Last updated: March 26, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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