10 Oct 2008

PNG hotel operator defends Rabaul air quality

4:20 pm on 10 October 2008

A hotel operator in Papua New Guinea's volcano-affected city of Rabaul is upset the country's labour and industrial relations department has told him to shut up shop.

Hotel manager Bruce Alexander says inspectors have ordered him to stop operation on health grounds despite a scientist finding the region's atmosphere was no worse than Beijing.

Mr Alexander has told PNG's Post Courier newspaper that despite following the department's occupational health and safety orders, in place due to the continuous fall of volcano ash, he has been now asked to close down.

Cambridge University professor Peter Baxter earlier this year reported the volcano's ash was non-toxic and the best health measures were for workers to wear protective masks.

Dr Baxter had found Rabaul's sulphur dioxide and dust levels similar to industrial centres around the world.

Mt Tavurvur, in East New Britain Province, erupted in 1994 and destroyed two-thirds of the nearby city.