19 Mar 2014

Australian ships surveying Bougainville ahead of ordnance operation

5:10 pm on 19 March 2014

A preliminary operation to survey the sea along Bougainville is underway in preparation for the removal of unexploded ordnance.

Two Australian ships are charting the sea floor from Torakina up to Buka, where there was heavy fighting during the Second World War.

The Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, Deborah Stokes, says the efforts are all part of Operation Render Safe, which is due to remove the unexploded bombs and other military debris, later this year.

Last year there was a similar operation in Solomon Islands and Ms Stokes says the Bougainville operation will start in a piecemeal fashion.

"I haven't been there myself, but I've seen photographs and it takes your breath away really, seeing piles of bombs as long as about six feet and piles of them, and then there's a whole range of other material that's there and of course that gets in the way of people using that area for their livelihoods, and its just, you know, dangerous."

The Australian High Commissioner to PNG, Deborah Stokes.