13 May 2004

Number of callers to Cook Islands pollution hotline suppressed

10:42 am on 13 May 2004

Authorities in the Cook Islands are refusing to say how many people have called a phone hotline to report health problems from pollution.

Officials have in the past forbidden the release test results for pollution in the lagoons of Rarotonga.

Cook Islands Television quotes an official in the office of MP Robert Wigmore, whose constituency reports the most health complaints, as saying that the call figures are confidential.

The refusal is the latest twist in years of denials from various governments about the extent of pollution problems in Rarotonga lagoons.

Biological and chemical tests for pollutants began three years ago but, like health statistics, have never been released.

Despite this, residents are still being urged to ring the hotline and report any burning symptoms in the eyes, nose or throat.