Acid spill at airport under probe

National, Normal

AIR Niugini and the Civil Aviation Authority are investigating how an acid spill almost killed an Air Niugini cargo employee last week.
A porter was handling a box at the Jackson Airport cargo terminal last Friday morning when a substance Air Niugini identified as sulphuric acid spilt onto the porter.
He sustained burns to his hands and legs and was rushed to the hospital.
The porter tried to lift the box onto a weighing machine when the accident happened.
The incident caused the cargo terminal to be closed most of Friday, and one company complained that flowers and orchids it imported from Malaysia were destroyed after being left in the sun.
Sulphuric acid is a very dangerous substance and even a small amount can burn the body.
The porter is believed to have been treated and released from hospital.
A source told The National the box which the porter handled was sent to them by a forwarding agency to be transported to a hospital in the Highlands.
But the box did not have any clear marking to show it contained a dangerous chemical.
The source said the forwarding agency did not declare to the airline what the content of the box was.
The box had the address of someone working for a hospital in Port Moresby, and it was destined for a person in a hospital in the Highlands.
“Looking at the box, you would think that it contained medical supplies,” the source said.
Air Niugini issued a statement last Friday warning that clients should ensure all cargo were properly packed to the specifications of International Air Transport Association (IATA), and to declare dangerous goods if they are forwarding such goods on air transportation.
Under the PNG Civil Aviation Authority Act 2000, a person who knowingly provides false information relating to the safety of an aircraft, aerodrome, aeronautical product, could be fined K30,000 while an organisation could pay up to K100,000.
It is understood that this is the second incident involving the forwarding agency, and Air Niugini has suspended services with the company.