Independent experts are set to review the health response to lead contamination in the water supply of two coastal Otago towns.
Water in Waikouaiti and Karitane remains undrinkable after lead was discovered in the water supply at 40 times the safe level for drinking. On Tuesday, 282 people were tested for traces of lead.
Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall said she had asked director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield to conduct a rapid review to ensure public confidence in the health response.
It was hoped the review would return its preliminary findings and recommendations in March.
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Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall says the situation in the two Otago towns is unacceptable.
New Zealanders have every right to expect that their drinking water is safe, Verrall said.
Whats happened in Otago is unacceptable.
She said the review would look at how local and central government health agencies responded to the crisis and how the risks to the public were addressed.
Terms of reference and the review’s panel would be announced in the coming days.
Several residents who sought hospital care last week after falling ill had since returned negative tests for lead, Stuff understands.
Residents get tested for lead at Waikouaiti after concerns over the water supply.
There is mounting pressure on the Dunedin City Council to identify and fix the problem.
The council has continued to investigate potential sources of contamination, including lead joins in old pipes, environmental contamination or sampling errors.
The work so far has confirmed the presence of lead joins in very old cast iron pipes in the Waikouaiti network.
Work to replace 4 kilometres of pipes has begun.
A community meeting on Friday attracted 500 concerned residents, with many venting their anger at how the crisis had been handled.