Is there arsenic in Orbiel’s wells?

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There’s a scare in Orbiel, Aude.  The questions is, are there arsenic residues in Orbiel’s wells, springs and fountains?

To take stock, two public meetings have just been organised in Aude. On the one hand, the ARS, the regional health agency, talks about caring for young children and pregnant women. On the other, residents denounce a lack of information and responsiveness.

For the past three years, Marlène has been filling the family pool with water from the well in her garden. She lives in Conques-sur-Orbiel in Aude. But in mid-June 2019, a prefectural decree banned the consumption of water from the private wells of the Aude commune.

Worried, Marlene had the urine of her two children analysed, like many parents in the Orbiel Valley. She is waiting for the results next week.

This ban is a precautionary measure taken following the high rate of arsenic found in the urine of several children, two of whom live in the neighbourhood.

Pollution from ancient mining sites was well known in the valley, and recommendations have existed for a long time to limit the risks. But in the aftermath of the floods in October 2018, when Marlene was six months pregnant and she participated in the cleaning of the village, no one alerted her.

Other uncertainties surround the water from the many springs and fountains in the area.  Are they contaminated or not?  Residents think it is a legitimate question based on the ban on consumption of well water.

At Mas-Cabardès, four children have above-average arsenic levels. And in this small village, some people continue to drink at Theron, the local source, where the water is not analysed.

“More information please”, the locals are saying.

Source: France 3