Laboratory analyses

Laboratory “ignored dangerous bacteria in water”

People’s health put at risk “for years” – Correio da Manhã

Thousands of hours worth of wire-tap ‘evidence’ in Operation Gota d’Água has thrown up extraordinary conversations about dangerous levels of bacteria in the water in various parts of northern Portugal.

Bottom line is that public health was at risk – albeit this is something Águas do Interior Norte was at pains to deny when the first stories of this alleged scandal appeared in the media.

According to Correio da Manhã today, public swimming pools and a hotel pool should all have been ‘closed down’ because of the dangerous levels of bacteria in the water.

But there were also incidences, now verified by PJ police, says the paper, in which laboratory staff tasked with taking analyses “did not even leave their homes”.

These staff members apparently ran water from their taps, and analysed it as if it had come from other locations.

PJ police have ‘tracked staff’ on several occasions to confirm the mathematical impossibility of being in the places they were meant to have been in – sometimes two different addresses, kilometres apart, within five minutes of each other – says CM.

The full story is due to be broadcast this evening, after the main news bulletin on CM’s television channel CMTV.

This morning, the paper has published two columns of alleged conversations between staff members of the Laboratório Regional de Trás-as-Montes and its director, which hint at the scope of the scandal.

If our phones are tapped, we’ll both being going to jail”, laboratory director Toniette da Cruz is quoted as having told a colleague who has said he is “fed up” with the status quo, that is ‘making him old‘…

CM describes Toniette da Cruz as the main suspect in Operation Gota de Água: “she was the one who told colleagues how they should act”, says the paper – stressing she paid no attention to warnings from colleagues that “one day they could be discovered”, nor did she apparently heed the warnings of her own husband.

In one instance, water samples from the parish of Abreiro, in Mirandela, were yellowy/ brownish. The laboratory classified them as “fit for human consumption”, with one instruction being “boil the bloody water”…

CM refers to cholorine being added to results, to ensure they ‘passed’, while one member of the laboratory admits to “knowing” that analyses will throw up the existence of aluminium in the waters (of Carrazeda), so she decided to use samples of tap water from her own home instead…

In all, Toniette da Cruz is said to be under suspicion of falsifying 396 analyses of water.

There is even an alleged comment caught on the ‘wire taps’ which said: “In a country as corrupt as this, who will go to jail for altering blinking microbiology? I don’t even know if it is a crime…” ND

Source material: Correio da Manhã