AN INCREASING number of petrol sniffers in communities across the Katherine region and in Katherine itself have sparked a recent outcry for a rollout of Opal fuel.
But rumours the low aromatic petrol, which prevents sniffers from getting a ‘high’, could destroy fuel pumps in vehicles, have since caused worries among locals.
Following similar worries of Alice Springs residents when Opal fuel was rolled out at service stations across town in 2005 the Royal Automobile Association Technical department, on behalf of the AANT, conducted an investigation into the problems caused to car engines when using Opal.
The investigation - conducted back in 2007 - came to the conclusion that there was “no technical reason why those vehicles that can use Opal should not use Opal”.
“The community and the motor vehicle repair industry have been very cautious in their approach to the use of Opal, but from our investigations there is no good reason why this reluctance should continue ...”, the report said.
Last month Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Warren Snowdon said the Federal Government would support the rollout of Opal fuel in Katherine in an aim to decrease the number of petrol sniffers in the region.
But Katherine Mayor Fay Miller said a rollout in Katherine and surrounding communities would not be enough.
“You can’t just roll out Opal fuel in Katherine, but not in Darwin,” she said.
“To tackle the problem we need Opal across the Territory.”
And Member for Katherine, Willem Westra van Holthe said ways to address the sniffing problem in the region “must be found”.
“If we don’t act now, children will die,” he said.
“For a strategy to work it must be based on the Central Australian model where pretty much every petrol outlet in the region sells Opal.
“A similar regional model for Katherine would have to include places like Timber Creek, Pine Creek, Mataranka, Adelaide River and Darwin to prevent people from getting sniffable fuel from somewhere else.”
He said in conjunction with other strategies - that address underlaying social and family issues which cause “kids (to) go down that slippery slope” - he was in support of the rollout of Opal fuel in the Katherine region.