18 Aug 2004

Cook Islands chairman denies cover-up over testing

3:19 pm on 18 August 2004

There have been strong denials that the Cook Islands government is engaged in a cover-up over tests results from Titikaveka.

Don Beer Jr, the acting chairman of the government-appointed taskforce dealing with the issue, says he's surprised by remarks made by independent candidate, Elizabeth Ponga, that people aren't being told what's going on.

Tests have been conducted at Titikaveka for months after numerous complaints of irritation to the eyes, nose and throat.

Mr Beer says results have been released publicly and there have been media releases to keep people informed.

"I'm very concerned in terms of the remarks that have been made that there's been a cover-up. The government has had numerous public meetings in Titikaveka over this issue. It's something that the community is obviously very concerned about and we're all trying to work together to try and solve the problem."

Mr Beer says the taskforce is meeting again tomorrow to discuss recent test results.

He says possibilities are being eliminated and the strongest contender is now a noxious seaweed that appears during the summer months.