From: Associated Press
Published July 5, 2006 12:00 AM

House of Lords Rules Bangladeshi's Suit over Arsenic Poisoning is 'Hopeless'

LONDON — The House of Lords ruled Wednesday that a Bangladesh resident had no hope of succeeding in a suit against a British agency, which he claims should have warned him of the presence of arsenic in drinking water.


The World Health Organization says that between 28 million and 35 million Bangladeshis drink water with elevated levels of arsenic. The problem is related to the shallowness of wells.


Binod Sutradhar, who lives in the Brahmanbaria district, 80 kilometers (50 miles) east of Dhaka, alleges that he developed arsenic poisoning after he began drinking water from a shallow well dug in his village in 1983.


He had sought to sue a British agency, the National Environment Research Council for negligence, for failing to detect arsenic when it conducted tests on water from deep wells in the 1980s and 1990s.


Lord Hoffman, in the ruling on the case, said the tests had no relation to the shallow well serving Sutradhar's village, and it was not the practice at the time to test for arsenic.


The agencies "can be liable only for the things they did and the statements they made, not for what they did not do," Hoffman said in his ruling.


"In my opinion the claim is hopeless," Hoffman said.


Source: Associated Press


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