8 Jul 2013

Unexploded weapons risking fishing and agriculture in Pacific

5:34 am on 8 July 2013

The head of an NGO trying to rid the Pacific of unexploded ordnance from the Second World War says the 70 year old weapons now also pose an environmental danger.

The National Co-ordinator for Safe Ground Australia, Lorel Thomas, says the weapons are corroding and releasing chemicals into the sea and soil, which is affecting fishing and agriculture.

"The ordnance is leaking something called Picric acid. It's highly dangerous. It's leaking into lagoons, it's leaking into the soil. So it's not just an explosive issue, it's also a land and sea contamination issue from the corrosion of the weapons."

Lorel Thomas says a recent conference in Australia highlighted the issue and countries are now working towards a region-wide action plan to speed up removal of the explosives funded by the Australian, New Zealand, US and Japanese governments.