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Australian Olympic rowers disrupted by sewage spill in lake

Australian’s Olympic rowing team programme in Canberra has been seriously disrupted by a dangerous chemical spill in the lake it uses for training.

Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra has been temporarily closed, after it was discovered that the Queanbeyan Sewage Treatment Plant had leaked sewage waste into the Molongo River after sustaining damage from heavy rain at the start of December. This river feeds into the lake, so it is highly likely to have been contaminated.

As spill control teams attempt to combat the situation and make the lake safe again, the AIS National Rowing Centre of Excellence has had to close. This has put a serious spanner in the works for the Australian Olympic rowing programme, which hopes to run a National Talent Identification Camp at the lake in the coming weeks. This is addition to planning for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Nonetheless, health authorities have warned that the lake is too dangerous to use. Gary Rake from the National Capital Authority reports:

"The way ACT Health has put it to me, even the minor contact that might come from paddle splash, or carrying a wet boat back to the shed could be sufficient when we've got 15 to 50 times the safe levels and knowing it's of human source."

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