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New York City Investigation Under Way in Cases of Contaminated Bottled Water

Aired September 15, 2000 - 2:43 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: In New York, bottled water contaminated with lye and ammonia has made at least four people sick and authorities are trying to figure out if the cases involved tampering and whether they're linked.

Here's CNN's Brian Palmer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN PALMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Health and law enforcement officials are investigating several new claims of contaminated bottled water in addition to the four reported Thursday. Authorities have not confirmed that the new claims involve actual contamination, but investigators are examining whether there is any link between the cases.

BERNARD KERIK, NEW YORK POLICE COMMISSIONER: Distributors, manufacturers and vendors, yes, that's what we're looking at.

PALMER: But the mayor stressed they have not at this point found evidence of a link.

MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI, NEW YORK: I think we should emphasize the fact that this is not brand specific. We've had three different brands involved in the four reported cases. And at this point, it's too early to tell what kind of trend or what -- exactly what's going on.

PALMER: In the first incident, a woman drank Perrier with traces of lye from a glass in a Manhattan restaurant. In the second, a 58- year-old man was sickened after drinking Aquafina, a Pepsi product tainted with ammonia. The third case involved Poland Spring water tainted with ammonia, bought by a mother for her 18-month-old boy. In the fourth case, detectives removed all Aquafina bottles and cleaning fluids from a Bronx gas station when an attendant said he felt ill after drinking Aquafina. All victims were hospitalized and released.

Makers of these products are speaking out. A statement from Perrier: "We will do everything we can to help the authorities get to the bottom of this situation... We have examined our manufacturing and delivering processes and found no evidence to suggest that the contamination occurred in our processes." And from Pepsi, bottlers of Aquafina: "Our first concern is for the health and safety of our consumers. If our help is needed, we're ready to work with the authorities in their investigation."

(on camera): Experts say investigators will examine whether any cases could be false or copycat claims.

(voice-over): The manager of the restaurant where the first incident occurred has this to say to the woman who became ill.

MUTSUHIKO YUHARA, MGR., BENIHANA RESTAURANT: I apologized because of the fact that she came to the Benihana Restaurant to enjoy the dinner and ended up, you know, going to the hospital.

PALMER: Meantime, the restaurant has stopped selling Perrier.

Brian Palmer, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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