Canada

Walkerton residents unsatisfied with charges in water tragedy

Charges against the two brothers in charge of the water supply in Walkerton have sparked anger and brought back difficult memories

Charges against the two brothers in charge of the water supply in Walkerton have sparked anger and brought back bad memories in the Ontario town.

Stan Koebel was manager of Walkerton's Public Utilities Commission. He faces seven charges. Frank Koebel was foreman and faces five charges.

The criminal charges against the brothers range from public endangerment to forgery.

CHARGES

Some people in Walkerton say that's not enough and want the Koebel brothers to stand trial for manslaughter. Others say the two are scapegoats for a much more complex problem with the safety of the province's water.

Bruce Davidson of Concerned Citizens of Walkerton said the charges against the Koebels don't offer solace for those who lost loved ones.

"We don't have the end piece of the puzzle, which is a government that's prepared to take this seriously enough to fully implement all the recommendations to protect human life," said Davidson.

Davidson said some people in Walkerton are still suffering the effects of E. coli contamination from three years ago, such as problems with kidney function.

During the inquiry into the Walkerton tragedy, the Koebels admitted they had habitually falsified water test results and faked daily log entries. They also admitted to drinking on the job.

Together, the men were in charge of a water system neither was qualified to run.

Some people in Walkerton say that now that there are charges against the brothers, residents can start to forgive.

"It's a turning point," said Ken Hartman. "What we've heard today may beg more questions than they've answered, but nonetheless I think we've made another bend in the road."

The Ontario Provincial Police say unless new information is discovered, the Walkerton investigation is now closed.

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