Shops sell out of bottled water after bacteria contamination scare

  • Alarm over high levels of bacteria first raised in Thorne, South Yorkshire
  • Police were called to two free water locations after ‘mayhem’ broke out
  • Ex-Labour leader Ed Miliband tweeted ‘very concerned’ for the residents
  • Water is now safe to drink and use for cooking if residents boil it first
  • List of post codes affected published by water supplier Yorkshire Water 

Imogen Calderwood For Mailonline



More than 3,500 homes have been warned not to drink tap water after a bacteria contamination scare in South Yorkshire. 

Supermarkets sold out of bottled water as panicked families rushed out to pick up emergency stocks.

The police were even called out to two free water locations after ‘mayhem’ broke out on Friday night.

The alarm was first raised in Thorne, near Doncaster, after high levels of bacteria were found in water samples.  

Alarm: More than 3,500 homes have been warned not to drink tap water after a bacteria contamination scare in South Yorkshire (file image)

Teams from Yorkshire Water worked through the night to try to solve the problem, while dozens of gallons of water were delivered to residents in the houses affected. 

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband, who is the Labour MP for Doncaster North, tweeted: ‘Very concerned for residents who can’t drink water because of contamination in parts of Moorends.

‘In touch with Yorkshire Water about their provision of water while problem is fixed. Also speaking to council.’ 

Residents have now been told they can drink their tap water and use it for cooking if they boil it first.

The new advice follows results of further water quality checks and consultation with Public Health England.   

The water is also safe to wash in and to flush toilets.  

Yorkshire Water said: ‘Customers in Thorne may notice elevated levels of chlorine, which is used safely as part of normal water treatment processes,’ the water supplier added.

‘This slight increase in chlorine levels may result in the water having a slight odour, but it is safe to drink once boiled.’  

Yorkshire Water spokesman Richard Sears said: ‘We recognise the enormous inconvenience it is causing our customers.’  

The utility firm apologised for ‘ongoing problems’ with the water supply.

He said tests were ongoing with samples being sent for analysis.   

‘But it does take time to get results from the samples,’ he added. ‘We are expecting results through the weekend. When we understand the full picture we will be in a positive to give an update. 

‘I can confirm categorically that it is not mercury. I can refute that and put people’s minds at rest,’ he said of rumours that the contamination was due to mercury.

Warning: Postcodes in the area marked in red have been told to boil their water before drinking it, following concern over bacteria in the water

Issue: Residents have now been told they can drink their tap water and use it for cooking if they boil it first

‘We are also planning to deploy small storage tanks in some streets which customers will be able to draw water from.

‘The water in these tanks will need to be boiled before use.

‘We would appeal to customers to only take what water they need and to help any vulnerable neighbours or friends in the affected areas.

‘Yorkshire Water has been working through the night carrying out further investigations into the cause of the contamination; flushing the local water supply system and carrying out further quality tests.’ 

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