Health authorities claim incident poses “negligible” risk

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Image Credits: Maxwell Hamilton / Flickr

Employees with pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) dumped more than 45 liters of concentrated live polio into the water at a Belgian treatment plant earlier this month according to a statement from health officials.

press release from the Federal Public Service (FPS) Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment in Belgium stated that “human error” resulted in the live virus making its way into the Lasne and Dyle rivers in Rixensart on Sept. 2.

“The liquid was rejected, according to initialinformation provided by the firm GSK, due to humanerror during the process of vaccine production,” the press release states. “The water from the treatment plant in question is not discharged to the supply network for drinking water.”

Swimmers and fishermen face “limited” danger according to a risk analysis conducted by the Scientific Institute of Public Health and the Supreme Council ofHealth, which also encouraged worried residents tocontact their doctors to debate “re-vaccination.”

“For precautionary measures, samples of sludge andwater from the treatment plant, the Lasne and Dylewill be taken to permit an assessment of the persistence of the virus,” stated the press release.“Pending these results, it is advised to avoid contactwith the water downstream of the WWTP Rosieres, to the confluence of the Lasne with Dyle.”

While details are scarce, the incident raises many questions given the vast amount of technical safeguards allegedly in place as well as the company’s questionable history.

Written by MIKAEL THALEN
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