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20 years

Sala IV ruling opens door for residents to sue State over contaminated drinking water

Sala IV / Supreme Court

July 1st, 2013 ( A recent ruling by Costa Rica’s Constitutional Court (Sala IV) states that residents in 23 communities whose water supply has been contaminated with arsenic could sue the state for costs and damages caused by consumption of the contaminated water.


In the ruling, the judge said that the Costa Rican Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (AyA) and the Government could be held responsible for expenses and damages by affected residents.


AyA earlier this year said before the Constitutional Court that the arsenic contamination was “not their fault.”


Costa Rica’s Constitutional Court (Sala IV) issued a Writ of Amparo against President Laura Chinchilla and various government agencies in April because they have failed to do anything about the fact that various water supplies in Guanacaste and northern Costa Rica contain dangerous levels of arsenic, even though the President declared the situation an emergency more than a year ago.


The affected communities include Bagaces, La Cruz, and Cañas in Guanacaste, as well as San Carlos, Alajuela.


At least eight people have died if kidney failure in Cañas, though health authorities have been reluctant to blame the high number of residents in the community suffering from kidney failure on arsenic contamination, although kidney failure is a common symptom of arsenic poisoning.



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