Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cashing in on the Scare Campaign

I recall discussing recycled water scare campaigns on this blog a couple of years ago. So I was interested to read this article from a Queensland local newspaper. It seems there’s money to be made from playing on people’s fears...

Should I really be surprised?

Water Wise see Beyond Sales Pitch
By Christopher O’Leary
South West News
29 January, 2009.

SOUTHWEST: Door-to-door water purifier salesmen are reported to have told residents that they were risking diseases including cancer by drinking town water.

The salesmen were reported in Gailes, Goodna, Springfield, Collingwood Park and Redbank Plains, claiming the area’s water was recycled.

Eight people complained to Ipswich City Councillor Paul Tully’s (Div 2) office about the traders, who were trying to sell water purifiers and coolers by direct debit from residents’ bank accounts.

Cr Tully said at least two people signed up and one complained to the Office of Fair Trading after trying to contact the company behind the products to cancel the sale. Fair Trading officers are now investigating reports in Ipswich.

This month foul-smelling, dirty-tasting water flowed through southwest taps due to an algae outbreak at Mt Crosby Weir.

Gailes resident Julie Fullarton said two people from the sales group said the local water was recycled, and from Toowoomba.

“I said we don’t get Toowoomba water, then my husband Howard shut the door on them,’’ she said.

Goodna resident Maryanne Reynolds was frightened when one salesman named “David” arrived at her door last week.

She said “David” showed her a picture of a woman’s breasts that were covered in blisters.

He told Ms Reynolds the blisters were a symptom of breast cancer, which she could develop from drinking tap water.

“I was frightened,’’ she said.

“I was horrified to look at it even as a nurse.

“Imagine if they showed that to someone who had breast cancer.”

“David” provided Ms Reynolds with his phone number but refused to talk when the News contacted him on Friday.

The company believed to employ the salespeople declined repeated requests for comment about the complaints.

According to the Queensland Water Commission, purified recycled water will only be introduced into Wivenhoe Dam when South-East Queensland’s combined dam levels reach the 40 per cent trigger level.

Queensland Health maintains that water fluoridation has been endorsed by the World Health Organisation and poses no known health risks.

It has also been endorsed by the Australian Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatrics.

Traders caught breaching the 1989 Fair Trading Act faced fines of up to $54,000, and $270,000 for companies.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Spilt sewage in Queensland fuels fears on recycled water

Greg Roberts | January 30, 2009

Article from: The Australian

TREATED sewage and industrial effluent have been spilled on four occasions over the past two weeks -- including three times in one day at different sites -- in another blow to southeast Queensland's $2.5billion recycled water scheme.

Faulty valves in pipelines were responsible for two of the discharges.

Authorities insisted there was no risk to public health or to the environment.

Critics of drinking recycled water argue that accidents arising from human error are the main reason for concern about itssafety.

The state Government was forced to suspend plans to add recycled water to southeast Queensland's drinking supplies next month in the face of public concerns about its safety, but the effluent will be added if dam levels fall to 40 per cent. They were at 46 per cent yesterday.

The Australian reported two weeks ago that state authorities had covered up an accident last July in which more than 500,000 litres of waste water were spilled at the Bundamba Advanced Water Treatment Plant west of Brisbane.

The plant is one of three treatment facilities connected by pipes in the western corridor recycling scheme, the biggest of its kind in the southern hemisphere.

On January 13, the Environmental Protection Authority investigated a spill of 500 litres from a recycled water pipeline in the Ipswich suburb of Goodna.

The spill was detected by Brisbane City Council inspectors.

The EPA was alerted to no fewer than three spills at widely dispersed sites on January 21.

At the Gibson Island recycling facility, near the mouth of the Brisbane River, 2000 litres were spilled from a diversion pit. In the Brisbane riverside suburb of Pinkenba, 12,000 litres were spilled because of faulty valves in the pipeline.

In the southern Brisbane suburb of Stretton, 100,000 litres were spilled from a pipeline, again because of a faulty valve.

The Environmental Protection Agency said there was no evidence of environmental damage from the first spill.

Investigations were continuing into the latest three spills, but the EPA said the environmental impacts were expected to be negligible because the leaked water met drinking-water requirements. The faulty pipeline parts had been replaced.

Australian National University microbiologist Peter Collignon, a critic of drinking recycled water, said the spillages highlighted the safety risks of the western corridor scheme.

"In any malfunctioning water system, 80 per cent of the time it's human error to blame rather than the efficiency of a screening system or some other piece of equipment," Professor Collignon said.

"That's why the risks involved in using this equipment are real."

Queenslanders for Safe Water president Merilyn Haines said the state Government should publicly reveal spillages when they occurred.

"It was bad enough that they covered up last time," Ms Haines said.

"How can we be expected to trust them when they're not open with the public? We shouldn't have to rely on the media."

However, Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg, continuing his "small target" strategy in the lead-up to a state election by saying little about policy, declined to comment on whether he agreed with the Government's critics.

Western Corridor Recycled Water Project spokesman Paul Rees said the scheme treated waste water that would have been discharged into the Brisbane River.

"We take all environmental incidents, including leaks, seriously," Mr Rees said.

"We notify the EPA of environmental incidents involving the project."

In addition to its western corridor woes, the Queensland Government has been under fire over delays to the commissioning of its $1.2 billion Gold Coast desalination plant.

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