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Aussie Spill Prompts Swimming Ban

September 10, 1999

PERTH, Australia (AP) _ Residents were warned not to swim off some beaches in this western Australian city on Thursday after nearly 2,000 pounds of arsenic was flushed into a waterway.

Authorities also banned the sale and harvest of local mussels as a precaution after the presence of arsenic was discovered. The deadly poison was emptied into storm drains leading to the Cockburn Sound over the past six weeks during decommissioning work at an ammonia factory, the Department of Environmental Protection said.

The factory’s owner informed authorities of the spill on Wednesday. Tests were to be conducted on the water, crabs, fish and other marine life. Officials said that although levels of contamination were likely to be low, even small traces or arsenic could cause nausea.

Perth, West Australia’s state capital, is located about 1,550 miles west of Sydney.

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