More tests on Bellinger River quality

By UTE SCHULENBERG

THE NSW Food Authority is not considering the reopening of the Bellinger River ? yet.

Contrary to information reported elsewhere, spokesman for the authority, Adrian Bradley, said while some encouraging results had been received, it was too soon to consider reopening the river for oyster harvesting.

"There has certainly been a significant improvement," Mr Bradley said.

"But we need to see this level of water quality over a longer period of time.

"The trend is encouraging but we are not there yet."

The Bellingen Shire Council's director of Health and Planning, Charlie Hannavy, said a further round of tests was scheduled for next week.

"We will be testing two sites, including the Sweedmans/Charlmont site," Mr Hannavy said.

"The test samples are being delivered to a Sydney laboratory, which is equipped with some of the latest testing equipment.

"This should help better identify the contaminant sources.

"The results, however, will not be available for a couple of weeks."

Sweedmans/Charlmont is the site east of Fernmount, where some unusually high e-coli samples were recorded three weeks ago.

The chairman of the Premier's Working Group, John Williams, confirmed that testing was ongoing but the decision about reopening the river could only be made by the NSW Food Authority.

"They are the independant regulator and imposed the closure, so it is up to them to rescind it," Mr Williams said.

"The Working Group is responsible for providing information to the regulator."



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