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Slaughter of the Frogs

By johnboy 15 December 2009 24

[First filed: Dec 13, 2009 @ 8:16]

Back when I worked in cinemas in London (over ten years ago) we had sensors in our refrigerators and freezers that triggered alarms when the temperatures departed from the acceptable range.

One might think the ACT Government’s much vaunted northern corroboree frog breeding program would care about its charges at least as much as a cinema cares about its ice creams. I mean if you lose a batch of ice creams you can get more delivered tomorrow. Whereas a rare frog breeding program indicates there are problems with supply.

But the ABC informs us that TAMS couldn’t even manage that:

Around 700 tadpoles and 300 frogs died when the refrigeration unit in a purpose built container housing the frogs at Tidbinbilla failed.

The frogs had been bred in captivity over the past two years.

Sharon Lane from the Department of Territory and Municipal Services says the breeding program staff are shattered.

It’s nice to know that having negligently slaughtered a population they were funded to propagate they feel badly.

They’re now promising to install an alarm system.

I’d be disappointed if it wasn’t entirely in keeping with what we’ve become used to.

UPDATE: The ABC’s Breakfast News is reporting a CT Story (no link at this time) saying the initial failure was a breeding program employee deciding to turn the refrigeration off so an ABC camera crew could have a better sound environment for recording.

Which makes one wonder what they thought the camera crew had come out for?

The greater failure still lies not in the fridge being turned off (horrific as it is), but the lack of monitoring systems capable of alerting anyone to the mishap.


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Slaughter of the Frogs
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ChrisinTurner 7:11 am 16 Dec 09

Piratemonkey said :

ChrisinTurner said :

You may find that the proposed alarm cannot be connected to any 24/7 manned location from Tidbinbilla. Why did they decide to do this work at Tidbinbilla rather than at their proper research facilities at Grace?

Actually I believe you will find a wireless data connection and a solar panel + battery to keep the alarm up and running would cost less then a couple grand. All you need then, is a service to send a SMS message to someones mobile phone when things go down. You could set that up for a few bucks. Hell I have hacked together a similar alarm system minus the solar panel with things I have lying around the house.

There is no mobile phone coverage so your ‘wireless’ system would have to be done by satellite.

The cat did it 11:09 pm 15 Dec 09

Ok, so the fridge was turned off on purpose- but that still doesn’t explain the lack of an independent, functioning over-temperature alarm system on this critical equipment. Almost every domestic security alarm has a built-in dialler these days, that will dial specified phone numbers when triggered. Couldn’t something like this have been rigged to phone a supervisor etc ??? Sounds like there is more information yet to come to light on this story.

Mordd 8:39 pm 15 Dec 09

Any chance the ABC could make that keys idea actual policy lol? Sounds damm sensible to me….

Power Protect 3:34 pm 15 Dec 09

Ozhair said :

When you turn off a fridge at a location, you put your car keys inside the fridge. That way, you’re not going anywhere until you rember that the fridge has been turned off 😉

I do the same thing when I have to leave my phone in a lockbox. Until I started doing that I would sometimes be a considerable distance away before I realise I’ve left my phone behind.

Gungahlin Al 2:02 pm 15 Dec 09

The newspaper article made the point that the ABC crew did not ask for it to be turned off, rather that the staff did it beforehand, based on past experience.
Good idea though!

Hells_Bells74 1:44 pm 15 Dec 09

My keys have been in many many fridges.. Sitting with my milk or whatever I need to leave in the fridge and remember before leaving. Have sat in my car very confused sometimes though. Shame they didn’t know that one then.

How will they make up for it?

ghughes 1:41 pm 15 Dec 09

Ozhair said :

When you turn off a fridge at a location, you put your car keys inside the fridge. That way, you’re not going anywhere until you rember that the fridge has been turned off 😉

Either that or the frogs have nicked your car.

Ozhair 11:55 am 15 Dec 09

The ABC crew forgot one of the most basic production tricks. When you turn off a fridge at a location, you put your car keys inside the fridge. That way, you’re not going anywhere until you rember that the fridge has been turned off 😉

Kramer 8:22 am 15 Dec 09

Don’t be so surprised, I have seen data centres where the cooling system malfunctioned, and no one was aware until servers started dieing as temps went over 60 degrees!

Gungahlin Al 6:37 am 15 Dec 09

cranky said :

One of the TV news stories (ABC?) had a weird lttle report, where it was stated that a staff member had turned the cooling system off whilst working there, and THOUGHT they had turned it back on when leaving.

Could be a bit of butt covering going on.

Yes Canberra Times is reporting today that the fridge was turned off while the film crew was there because during past media visits they’ve found it is too noisy to film and talk in there. Simply forgot to turn it back on.

Yes it is a real blow for the frogs esp) and an alarm would have been an obvious thought if the refrigeration was so critical. But it is easy to apply the old 20-20 hindsight. Who here has never made a mistake at work?

housebound 1:41 pm 14 Dec 09

I’ld like to offer my condolances to the biologists actually doing the work. There’s so much personal investment in projects like this, and having 100% of offspring dying is just devastating.

As for the person ultimately responsible for it – perhaps the bean counter who wouldn’t extend the budget to an alarm system or a more reliable fridge, or the gung ho manger who thought that nothing could go wrong – just own up and face the music.

Coach 1:03 pm 14 Dec 09

Whatever direction you look at it from……..it’s a bloody disgrace. 50 years ago our level of awareness, our technology etc would have excused this, but not in 2009. If anyone has the thought “Their only Frogs” going through their head when they read this…….then you really don’t GET IT.

neanderthalsis 12:23 pm 14 Dec 09

Frogs legs back on the menu?

Seriously, if you’re serious about replenishing stocks of endangered frog species, surely you’d have some sort of controls and alarms in place to prevent a froggy holocaust.

H1NG0 10:19 am 14 Dec 09

Pretty poor form I must say.

Ian 1:00 am 14 Dec 09

What was the contingency plan? Hope nothing goes wrong.

johnboy 9:41 pm 13 Dec 09

cranky said :

One of the TV news stories (ABC?) had a weird lttle report, where it was stated that a staff member had turned the cooling system off whilst working there, and THOUGHT they had turned it back on when leaving.

Could be a bit of butt covering going on.

How the cooling came to be off is not the issue.

How there were no alarm systems in place is the issue.

cranky 9:37 pm 13 Dec 09

One of the TV news stories (ABC?) had a weird lttle report, where it was stated that a staff member had turned the cooling system off whilst working there, and THOUGHT they had turned it back on when leaving.

Could be a bit of butt covering going on.

Piratemonkey 9:21 pm 13 Dec 09

ChrisinTurner said :

You may find that the proposed alarm cannot be connected to any 24/7 manned location from Tidbinbilla. Why did they decide to do this work at Tidbinbilla rather than at their proper research facilities at Grace?

Actually I believe you will find a wireless data connection and a solar panel + battery to keep the alarm up and running would cost less then a couple grand. All you need then, is a service to send a SMS message to someones mobile phone when things go down. You could set that up for a few bucks. Hell I have hacked together a similar alarm system minus the solar panel with things I have lying around the house.

Having worked with custom built equipment approaching this scale such add on’s would have been “a drop in the bucket” in comparion to what the equipiment cost.

Someone really screwed up the risk assesment part of the project plan on this one. Or someone ignored a sensible idea. Either way there is someone serioulsy worried at the moment they will be exposed for quite a career limiting move.

imhotep 3:50 pm 13 Dec 09

Woody Mann-Caruso said :

Missed opportunity for a headline….

‘Tadpoles toasted. TAMS staff gutted.’

.

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