Canada

Walkerton Inquiry: Stop the blame game, says Trudell

The lawyers for Stan and Frank Koebel have completed their final arguments to the inquiry into the E. Coli contamination of the Walkerton water system. Stan Koebel is the former water manager. His brother Frank was a foreman with the now disbanded Public Utilities Commission. Seven people died after consuming the tainted water. Hundreds became ill.

The lawyer for Stan Koebel, Bill Trudel, said the blame game has to stop. Bill Trudel says the provincial government is trying to blame his client for the contamination.

Trudel said Koebel didn't set out to deceive anyone, but lacked the understanding of what was important to operate the water system. Trudel also talked about the time pressure on his client.

The inquiry commissioner, Mr Justice Dennis O'Connor asked Trudel about Koebel not making sure there were acceptable levels of chlorine, when all it involves is turning a dial. "[Koebel] was not connecting the dots," said Trudel.

Koebel joined Walkerton's Public Utilities Commission at the age of 19. He eventually worked his way up to general manager.

The inquiry was told part of the job turned into falsifying reports and failing to properly monitor and test the town's water. The weekend of the deadly outbreak, Koebel sat on lab results showing E. coli contamination and desperately tried to chlorinate the town's water.

Bill Trudell said the government has tried and convicted Koebel through its submissions. He said Koebel is not responsible for several factors leading up to the contamination. Trudel added that we are all responsible for taking water for granted.

now