Canada

Ministry official considered possibility of poisoning in Walkerton

The first Environment Ministry official to investigate the E. coli outbreak in Walkerton, Ont. seriously considered sabotage as the cause.

John Earl testified Monday at the inquiry into the tainted-water crisis.

He said the suspicion came after an anonymous phone call to the Environment Ministry's spills action centre last May.

"It appeared to me that whoever the anonymous caller was, he certainly seemed to have detailed information with respect to the Walkerton water system," Earl told the inquiry.

"That made me consider the possibility that this incident might have been intentionally created."

That fear was dismissed after a preliminary report concluded heavy rains washed animal waste tainted with E. coli into the town's water supply.

The inquiry, led by an Ontario judge, will look into how a toxic strain of E. coli bacteria infected Walkerton's water supply - killing seven people and making more than 2,000 others ill.

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