Commissioner seeks details of Titanic filming crew being fed PCP in 1996

The Nova Scotia Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) has ruled in favour of releasing information related to a bizarre 1996 incident where dozens of crew members on the set of the movie “Titanic” fell ill after allegedly consuming food laced with phencyclidine (PCP), also known as “angel dust”.

The OIPC Commissioner, Tricia Ralph, found that the Halifax Regional Police (HRP) had improperly withheld certain details under freedom of information laws.

The OIPC ordered the HRP to release the following information:

4*) Factual observations made by third-party witnesses, with personal identifiers such as names and contact information removed.

*) Any information previously redacted under sections 472(1)(b), 475(1)(c), and 475(1)(d) of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) that does not infringe upon personal privacy.

Meanhile the following information will remain confidential:

*) Personal information of third-party witnesses, including names, addresses, phone numbers, and employment details.
Names and badge numbers of HRP officers (as the applicant no longer requested this information).

*) Personal information of third-party employees involved in the incident due to their professional capacity (e.g., healthcare providers from other hospitals).

The OIPC determined that releasing personal details of witnesses could constitute an unreasonable privacy invasion. The information was collected for a specific criminal investigation that never resulted in charges.

The HRP has 45 days from the report’s date (March 28, 2024) to disclose the required information.

News reports from 1996 indicated that around 80 crew members, including director James Cameron,  suffered from symptoms linked to what was initially believed to be food poisoning. However, HRP investigators later concluded the culprit was PCP-laced lobster chowder.

The OIPC recommendations are not binding; however, the HRP is likely to comply. The released information may shed light on the events surrounding this unusual incident.

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