Truth about the chemical spill - Solomon Star News
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Truth about the chemical spill

17 June 2014
Author 

I refer to the above article in your local news column of your paper in yesterday’s issue where the CEO of FSII, Benjamin Afuga claimed that he had unsuccessfully attempted to talk to our management over the incident.

That claim is pure nonsense. Our telephone lines and e-mail contacts are open around the clock and our location is easily accessible because we are just a metre away from the main road.

Why Afuga found it difficult to make contact with us, is beyond reasoning.

Also, Afuga claimed that our management knew about the chemicals but did nothing about them, is another nonsense.

In my letter to Evita Solomon Ltd on the day after the spill, I pointed out to their management that the spill was of their own making.

This is because early last year, I put it in writing to their management in the strongest term that processing of gold in our premises using toxic and dangerous chemicals was to be immediately put to a stop. And, stop they did.

However, although we thought Evita had got rid of all the chemicals used, I admit, that was not the case. In that respect, Evita had let us down.

Afuga further claimed that our guests were told to vacate (displaced from) their rooms the whole afternoon while experts worked to remove the containers.

Again, that was another nonsense from the CEO. The incident happened in late afternoon and shortly after 6pm, the experts rendered the premises safe to enter.

Also, throughout the incident, not all our guests left their rooms because the spill was contained to just one room upstairs on the east wing.

After the spill, I investigated whether or not any of my cleaners knew about the chemicals stored in that particular guest room. I admit, some did but they thought the contents were safe because the containers were tightly sealed.  They did not report anything to the management.

For Afuga’s information, police officers who were involved in rendering the incident safe said they will not be charging anyone for the chemical spill.

That is because unlike cyanide, nitric acid is not considered a restricted chemical where you must have a special permit to import, store or use.

To avoid any doubt, he should properly get further clarifications from police in that regard before he goes to the media with his unsubstantiated facts.  

I hope the clarifications provided herein should leave no doubt to Afuga that we know we have a duty of care over our guests and workers. Their safety has always been and will continue to be, our priority.

In closing, I am requesting Afuga to directly talk with me before he again attempts to put out anymore nonsense in the media for public consumption.

I will be more than willing to provide him reliable information than those he collected from the gutter.

I take this opportunity to thank the experts from the Royal Solomon Islands Fire Service Brigade and Honiara City Council Health department for their respective engagements in containing the chemical spill and rendering the unfortunate incident safe for both our guests and workers.

MARTIN MATA
General Manager
Tandai Seafront Hotel

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