Monday, January 17, 2011

Brisbane River flooding 'avoidable'

Confirmation of an earlier posting (on 15th.) here. The bureaucracy replies that although what they did was hugely damaging, it "was in accordance with the operating manual"! Brains not required, apparently

THE Brisbane River flooding would have been largely avoided if dam operators had raised their releases of water on the weekend before last Monday's deluge, an engineer claims.

Engineer Michael O'Brien told The Australian the river flood and the devastation of thousands of homes was inevitable after a decision to release relatively low volumes of water from the Wivenhoe Dam on Friday, January 7, and over the ensuing weekend.

He said over that weekend the dam's operators released a total of about 200,000 megalitres. Scrutiny of official water-release and dam volume data shows the flood would have been moderate at worst in Brisbane had there been larger releases in the days before the deluge, he said.

Mr O'Brien, whose written review is based on publicly available data released by the Queensland government-owned dam's operators, SEQWater, said full disclosure is vital to reassure people that the dam was operated responsibly.

However, SEQWater Grid chief executive Barry Dennien has insisted that although the January 8-9 releases were relatively low compared with what occurred in the days afterwards, this was in accordance with the operating manual to mitigate flooding. He said that nobody had foreseen the extreme rainfall that ensued.


Coal miners to blame for Queensland floods, says Australian Greens leader Bob Brown

Far-fetched as it is, what Brown says is consistent with his Warmist assumptions. It is the assumptions that are far-fetched. As Senator Joyce said, it was absurd for Senator Brown to blame the coal industry for floods, which had been a reality in Queensland throughout its history. “In 1893, the flood gauge on the Brisbane River reached 8.35m, so was the coal industry responsible for that as well?” he asked.

GREENS leader Bob Brown says the coal mining industry should foot the bill for the Queensland floods because it helped cause them.

The floods are Queensland's worst for nearly 40 years, with more than 26,000 homes affected and at least 16 people killed.

Senator Brown said the Federal Government should impose the original version of the Resources Super Profits Tax, and use the funds to pay for the clean-up.

"It's the single biggest cause - burning coal - for climate change and it must take its major share of responsibility for the weather events we are seeing unfolding now," he said in Hobart today.

"We know that the oceans around Australia are at record high temperatures, and that's causing the moisture in the air which is leading to these catastrophic floods.

"It is costing billions of dollars, besides the pain, the anguish, the loss of life, the destruction and it should not be left to ordinary taxpayers to bear the full brunt of that."


RACQ Insurance talks tough as Queensland flood claims soar

WILD weather in Queensland has triggered almost 6000 claims for RACQ Insurance, which argued yesterday it would have to take a tough line with flood claims so the insurer could remain in business.

Claims lifted from the 2000 indicated on Thursday and would increase, RACQI said. The figures revealed the fast-rising scale of disaster.

The tally comes as it is thought RACQI, owned by the motoring body, is heavily buffered from single large catastrophes by its own "re-insurance" protection triggering at $10 million.

The series of wild weather disasters ranging from pre-Christmas hail storms to the Toowoomba flash flood and last week's flooding in Brisbane has triggered hundreds of millions of dollars in claims for insurers.

The Insurance Council of Australia said flooding outside the southeast alone had chalked up $365 million in claims.

But flooding has sparked anger from people about policy wording, given victims might not be covered for water slowly rising out of a river as opposed to storm water quickly entering through the roof.

A RACQI spokesman said hydrologists were yet to determine how to classify the latest disasters.

Some politicians, including Treasurer Wayne Swan, have asked for "compassion" from insurers, but not sought a blanket payout for victims outside of their insurance policy wording.

RACQI chief executive Bradley Heath said while his organisation "includes flash flood coverage in our standard household policies, RACQ Insurance has never offered flood cover as standard". "Unless policy holders have purchased the optional flood coverage, RACQ Insurance will not be able to pay flood claims," Mr Heath said. "We have to ensure that we are here today, tomorrow and in the years ahead for all two million of our policy holders."

Other insurers will face a similar dilemma about making extraordinary payouts. Neither Suncorp's AAMI brand, nor IAG's NRMA standard policies would cover a slow-river flood.

Insurers face a dilemma because their own "reinsurance" protection may not cover any special payouts. Insurers take their own protection via reinsurance companies to offer a buffer on an insurer's payout in a large-scale disaster. But reinsurance industry sources have told The Courier-Mail they offer protection based on an insurer's policies with customers.

It is understood RACQI has its own reinsurance triggered at $10 million for a large catastrophe. That is a far bigger buffer than the likes of Suncorp, which is triggered at $200 million or IAG, triggered at $150 million.


More public hospital negligence

A TEENAGER whose white-tail spider bite was twice misdiagnosed was forced to undergo major surgery to halt the spread of flesh-eating infection.

Micaela Monaco, 15, was told by two doctors she had a mosquito bite, but she said it looked nothing like one, and the pain became so intense she wanted to cut her arm off.

Paula Monaco said her daughter woke up with a bite on her arm, and two days later she visited a Greenvale GP where she was told it was a mosquito bite and was sent home with Panadol and antibiotics.

But the pain intensified and Ms Monaco took Micaela to Epping's Northern Hospital that night, where a triage nurse, again, said it was a mosquito bite, and after waiting for hours, a doctor repeated this diagnosis.

"I had mozzie bites on my shoulder, and it didn't look anything like them, it was big, it was red and swollen and it had like a black head," Micaela said. "The pain was really bad, it got to the stage where I wanted to cut my arm off."

Ms Monaco said Micaela was sent home from Northern Hospital on Friday with painkillers and antihistamines.

By Monday her condition had deteriorated further and Ms Monaco took Micaela to Sunshine Hospital, where she was treated immediately. Doctors told her she had been bitten by a white-tail spider and were concerned the infection would hit the bone and eat away at her flesh, Ms Monaco said. The Westmeadows teen had surgery last Tuesday to have the infection cut and cleaned, and went home on Wednesday.

Ms Monaco was angry that her daughter's spider bite was misdiagnosed, and allowed to reach the point where Micaela had to undergo surgery. "I'm really annoyed because there was no need for her to go through all of this pain ... and I was very worried that the infection might go through her body."

A Northern Hospital spokesperson said a complaint had not yet been received from the family, and until then the matter could not be investigated. [Really??]

Victorian Poisons Information Centre manager Jeff Robinson said white-tail spider bites were common, but they only rarely caused ulcers or flesh-eating infections. "It's just a rare complication that can happen with any sort of spider bite," Mr Robinson said.

White-tail spider bites could be painful, red, itchy and with a lump, which could remain for up to two weeks, he said. Those bitten should apply an ice pack, and take Panadol and an antihistamine if it becomes itchy or swollen, and if infection develops visit a doctor.


1 comment:

Paul said...

By the time one gets to hospital it ceases to be a "bite" by whatever bit, and becomes cellulitis with a clear risk of systemic sepsis, and should be recognizable as such by that stage. It is not up to the Doctor or Nurse to diagnose an insect bite, their job is to assess the results of the bite and treat accordingly.