Sunday Territorian 15 May 2011
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www.sundayterritorian.com.au Sunday Territorian, Sunday, May 15, 2011 13 P U B : N T N E W S D A T E : 1 5 -M A Y -2 0 1 1 P A G E : 1 3 C O L O R : C M Y K sundayterritorian.com.au OPINION I was sober I had only just woken up, bro ALANFERGUSON TheUFO-ologist on his spotting a pair of UFOs flying in unison. Were advising people to use common sense LAURENHILL The superintendent telling people in Alice Springs its not safe towalk around the town at night. For that reason, the newgrog laws are flawed JOHNPATERSON AMSANTs chief executive on lobbying for a floor price on alcohol. It lost its stigma a long time ago QUENTINKILIAN REINTs chief executive on Palmerston losing its bogan tag. Even though the Government denies the poo shooter is responsible, we are still spending $80million to shut it J UST when you thought it was safe to go back into the water . . . Well, lets be honest no body in Darwin feels safe going into the water. We have crocs. We have stingers. We also have anarchist dolphins who keep threatening to jump in front of Inpex blasts. And now we have E.coli. Yes, its back. The dreaded Poonami has returned. But more to the point, did it ever go away? Last year, in this column, I referred to the Poo-lution scandal as a classic whodunnit mystery. We had an obscure list of suspects and no answers. The first suspect was the poo shooter which pumps three gigalitres of untreated sewage into Darwins harbour every year. That is the equivalent of 100 Olympic-sized swimming pools. But Health Minister Kon Vatskalis this week jumped to its defence. He said the poo shooter was not the smoking gun. The results we have received indicate that the pollution is limited to the coastline near Darwin, he said. The control sites near Mandorah are clear, the middle of the harbour is also clear, so the Larrakeyah outfall is not the smoking gun, he said. The smoking gun is a number of private, government and non-government businesses that operate in the catchment area. Mr Vatskalis said Rapid Creek drains the RAAF Base Darwin and the airport, and also passes through places that have animals, gardens and other factors that pollute the harbour. We have an enormous network of trades and, unfortunately, some have illegal connections, and these drains are running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. EARLIER that day, it wassuggested the blame may even lay at the feet of mans best friend. Environmental Health Director Xavier Schobben said mutts were contributing to the contamination but they werent the sole cause. He suggested the E.coli readings were caused by several factors, including dogs, wading birds and bluegreen algae. Theres no single cause, no smoking gun, he said. Several fingers were pointed at mutts this week. There are 23 million fecal coliform bacteria in every gram of dogs poo and the average mutt can discharge up to 200g each day. But before we were looking at dogs, we had also blamed bats. And nappies. And itinerants. In the past 12 months, the Government has also blamed seaweed, yachts, unregulated storm drains, the Wet, leaking toilet blocks and coral spawn. In fact, theyve blamed pretty much anything and everything. And even though the Government denies the poo shooter is responsible, we are still spending $80 million to shut it down. It was a 2001 election promise and looks like it will not be fulfilled until the end of the year. But if thats not to blame, does that put us back to square one? The Government has spent the past 12 months trying to figure out the source of the contamination and were still no closer to finding an answer. All we have is a laundry list of possible suspects. But we are actually a little behind schedule. The Health Department had stopped testing our beaches in December because of stingers. And then the first test in five months closed Nightcliff and Lee Point Beach. Has it been like this the whole time? And why is it taking so long to find an answer?