Christine Sorenson, president of the BC Nurses’ Union, raises concerns about the quality of water at the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Nurses’ Union president told not to drink the water in Prince Rupert

Public health nurse, Christine Sorensen, raises concerns about the quality of water at the hospital

The BC Nurses’ Union is weighing in on the boil water notice in Prince Rupert after city officials announced it could last for another week.

Christine Sorensen, public health nurse and president of the BC Nurses’ Union, said she is concerned about the impact this boil water notice is having on the acute care system in Prince Rupert.

When she was in Prince Rupert for a meeting in August she was told then not to drink the water.

“Even then nurses were raising concern, not only about the colour, the sediment that’s in the water, the taste, the odour, but even then I was told not to drink the water. Nurses have been bringing this forward to me for a long time,” she said.

Boil water orders are always a concern, especially when clean drinking water and sanitation is necessary to meet public health standards. She said that people with compromised immune systems are what concern her the most. She was informed that patients in the cancer care unit at the hospital have also been advised not to bathe.

Previous water issues at Rupert hospital

Water quality at the hospital was under scrutiny earlier this year when Northern Health conducted a water quality study after muddy water was found in some of the taps.

READ MORE: Muddy water found in taps at Prince Rupert hospital prompts investigation

Then in August, the filtered water system at the patient care unit broke down, and the health authority said it wouldn’t be replaced it until the ongoing water study is complete. As of mid-December, the situation hadn’t changed.

“I’m actually shocked that the medical health officer has not paid more attention to this issue and actually worked more closely with the city to rectify this sooner. It actually sounds like it’s getting worse rather than better,” Sorensen said.

The city provided its response to Sorensen’s comments.

“To directly address the contention that the cty has known about this issue for months, this is simply not the case,” said Veronika Stewart, communications manager for the City of Prince Rupert, in an email.

She explained that the city’s water is regularly tested by Northern Health and the notice regarding cryptosporidium and giardia was issued on Friday immediately following notice from Northern Health that tests came back with levels that are higher than acceptable.

“As we have explained, this issue is tied to naturally occurring weather events, as well as the use of our lower elevation secondary source at Shawatlan lake during water infrastructure construction.”

The city has applied for funding to developed a water treatment facility.

“This application was completed in conjunction with Northern Health to address issues like the high concentration of tannins – which contributes to the yellowish colour of the water. These infrastructure upgrades would occur regardless of this particular notice, and are part of the city’s asset replacement program,” Stewart said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bachrach to donate salary hike to community organizations

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP among growing list of MPs giving raise away amid economic crisis

Prince Rupert seniors are often not able to purchase groceries

Shopping hours, panic buying makes basic essentials extremely difficult for those at high risk

Coast Mountain College sets up student emergency fund

It’ll provide grocery store gift cards for students affected by COVID-19 crisis

City gives no response to homelessness concerns

City demands shelter close, but no response to pleas from shelter to open Jim Ciccone Civic Centre

Landlords are panicked

Risk is real for April rent and greater challenges are foreshadowed for May

Trudeau rejects mandatory stay-at-home order for now; COVID deaths up

The virus has now infected more than 10,000 Canadians and cost 130 their lives

B.C. health officer says homemade masks may prevent spread of COVID-19 to others

Practising physical distancing, frequent hand washing and resisting touching your face are proven methods

B.C.’s senior home staff measures show results in COVID-19 battle

Dr. Bonnie Henry’s order restricts care aides to one facility

‘A matter of human decency’: Truckers’ union calls on gas stations, rest stops to fully re-open

Teamsters Canada wants feds, provinces to put pressure on facilities to re-open for transport workers

B.C. unveils $3.5M COVID-19 emergency fund for post-secondary students

Money will help students cover living expenses, food, travel, portable computers

‘We will get through this’: B.C. sees new COVID-19 death, but 57% have recovered

A total of 1,066 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

COVID-19: ‘The Ballad of Bonnie Henry’ recorded and released

LISTEN: Quick turnaround for song penned by B.C. Order of Canada musician Phil Dwyer

Most Read