Govt concedes that GWI used chemical for some purification

Last Updated on Friday, 4 November 2016, 16:25 by Denis Chabrol

Under pressure from the opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) in the National Assembly, Minister of Communities,  Ronald Bulkan buckled and said the biocide, Antinfex, was in fact used for purification purposes.

Moments earlier, in response to a series of questions by PPPC Frank Anthony, Bulkan repeatedly stated that Antifex “has not been used for purification at any of the water treatment plants.” Instead, only chlorine, lime and alum are being used, he said.

The Minister said the Guyana Water Inc earlier Friday briefed the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), at the regulator’s request, about the use of Antifex. The PUC has already ordered GWI to stop using the chemical.

While Bulkan sought to shore up the credibility of Antifex as a water purifier and disinfectant in other parts of the world, he said no decision has been taken to use that chemical locally.

Pressed by Dr. Anthony on whether any Antifek had been purchased and for what purpose, the Minister of Communities then disclosed that 100 litres of the biocide had been purchased for testing and some purification purposes.

“The information is that some some of the product that was procured was used for purification of some of the water supply lines in limited locations,” Bulkan told the House.

However, House Speaker Dr. Barton Scotland blocked Dr. Anthony from asking follow-up questions because he had already exceeded the two allotted follow-up questions. “I cannot allow you additional questions. We all agree that it is important but that is not why we should break the rules,” said Dr. Scotland.

The Minister of Communities said at the outset that he had not been fully prepared to respond to all of Bulkan’s questions, but assured that the answers would be provided before or early in the next House sitting

Dr. Anthony had wanted to know who authorised the use of Antifex, when the decision was taken use it instead of chlorine, locations, population size, which international agencies have certified its use, possible side effects due to prolonged consumption and what is the system in place to monitor side-effects. The PPPC lawmaker also wanted to know what was the system of procurement