Published on 15th February 2012
Bougainville volunteer Dave Hall has been instrumental in getting a potentially disastrous chemical hazard removed from the site of the former water treatment plant in Arawa.
Thanks to Dave’s efforts, 65 rusting chlorine gas bottles that were left behind when the plant was closed during the Bougainville crisis in the 1990s have now been salvaged and sent to Australia for processing. At least four of them are believed to still contain chlorine gas, which is highly toxic and can kill everything it comes into contact with.
“During the First World War it was known as mustard gas, and it was used by both sides to kill enemy soldiers in the trenches,” says Dave, a civil engineer who is on assignment as a public works officer for the Arawa Urban Council.
Dave first noticed the bottles when he arrived in Arawa in April 2010 and he was immediately concerned that they might start leaking.
“If they did leak there was a real possibility someone might get killed.”
However the Urban Council could not afford to pay to get them removed, despite the danger they posed.
Eventually Dave managed to track down the bottles’ owners, Dulux PNG, and approached them about the possibility of salvaging them. The company offered to do the work free of charge, and earlier this month a group of Dulux representatives arrived in Arawa and organised for the 65 bottles to be loaded into a container and sent to Australia for processing. The four most corroded bottles were sealed in special cylinders.
Dave says having the bottles gone is a weight of everyone’s mind.
“It’s really good to know that we are all safe from this potentially disastrous situation. The town manager, Mark Sivutare, is particularly grateful to Dulux for doing this work free of charge.”