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Acid Pollution Leaves Oyster Business on the Rocks

AUSTRALIA - An influx of sulfate-infused run-off, due to high rainfall, is decimating oyster production in the Port Macquarie area. It is forcing long-establish shellfish business to re-locate or surrender thier leases.

One victim is Oysterman Charlie Dick, who has produced the shellfish for more than a decade. According to Port Macquarie News, he stands to lose half a million mature oysters this season and could be forced to give up his lease on the Hastings River.

He says the loss of beds will set him back three years at a cost of about $250,000 - and it's a time when Mr Dick should be reaping the rewards of his investment and hard work.

Heavy rainfall and an influx of acid sulfate soils (ASS) are being blamed and although the council has begun a clean-up programme, the situation is not improving.

"I'm probably going to have to leave this site because it just is not a safe spot." he said.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council natural resources officer Thor Asso said the council had been working on minimising the discharge of acid into the river since 2001. Remedial works are underway to contain acid groundwater by infilling drains, installing weirs and rehabilitating degraded wetlands through hydrology and the promotion of revegetation.

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Ellen Hardy

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