Police identity chemical dealer
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN
POLICE have identified the company that owns or imported the chemicals that were discovered near the Tuvaruhu community high school (CHS) in Central Honiara.
Police Commissioner, Matthew Varley, however did not reveal its name, saying it is subject to investigation.
“I am not going to go into details of the identity of that company at this point in time because that would be inappropriate because of the nature of investigation,” Mr Varley told journalists at his weekly conference yesterday.
“We are also interviewing a number of witnesses who were able to provide information as to people who put those chemicals in that location.
“…. and we are already following up on some suspects and leads in relation to that.
“I don’t what to say too much more about that at this point in time because it could compromise the ongoing investigation but i want to reassure the public that there is a well advanced inquiry into this case and we are doing our best to progress that quickly as possible.”
Mr Varley also said they have identified those chemicals that were dumped at the scene in various states.
“We have identified about 27 different types of chemical that were dumped at the scene in various states.
“Some were in boxes, some were in plastic cartons, some were in bottles, and some were left at the side, some were also tried to be buried in four different locations.
“We have so far removed all of that.
“We have taken a very painstaking, what we call hazardous materials approach to these, hazmat approach, using the expertise of our fire and rescue officers who have specialised equipment and training to deal with these,” he said.
He said they are also working closely with the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Mines and Solomon Water, as well as local community chiefs and leaders to keep them informed.
Mr Varley added that they have been obtaining expert specialised advice from Australia over the past four days including Australian Federal Police, Chemical Forensics Specialists who have been advising them on the specialised handling and uses of these chemicals and risks posed.
“We have been also on close consultations from experts on hazardous materials from Fire and Rescue in New South Wales, the New South Wales fire service who we have a close working relationship with as well.”
He said they have recovered much of the items and have stored them into secured plastic tabs for safe storage at the present time at the site.
“We have filled 67 plastic cartons of these chemicals and they are stock piled there and they have been catalogued, examined and documented by forensic officers as well.
“We are approaching these as a two part operation, there is the environmental, local and community safety aspect of the operation and there is also the investigation as to what had occurred.
“As we go along our officers, forensic officers and detectives are have been working painstakingly over the past two days collecting evidence in relation to this case as well.
“Our fire and rescue officers have been doing a great job with their specialised protective equipment, breathing apparatus and specialised trained to remove the items.”
He said police investigators have been doing a great job to collect the evidence.
Police received the report of the discovery of the chemicals at Tuvaruhu on July 2 from members of the Tuvaruhu community.
The chemicals were located just 15 meters near the back of the Tuvaruhu community high school and about 15 to 20 meters from the site of the Mataniko river.
Police have been working closely with the range of agencies to safely assess, contain, evaluate, store and remove those chemicals that have been identified as being unlawfully disposed off at that location.