Strange purple powder frightens Svalbard dwellers

Mysterious purple powder scares in Svalbard
The waste plant in Longyearbyen is closed, and a mysterious substance has been sent in for analysis

The waste plant in Longyearbyen is closed, and a mysterious substance has been sent in for analysis

“The powder is very volatile, it has gone everywhere and turns purple when sprayed with water,” writes the Svalbardposten.

“The whole thing is scary and uncomfortable. As long as we do not know what it is, we are being very cautious,” said operations manager at the waste plant, Hans Peter Lauritsen to Aftenposten.

The plant is closed for normal operations, and those who enter must wear protective equipment.

Two weeks ago Friday, a container came in of what was to be combustible waste. According to routine, the contents were transferred to the machine that grinds, presses and packages such waste.

After packing, the waste is routinely shipped by boat to the mainland, and then by truck to the incinerator in Sweden.

“When this waste went through the mill, there was suddenly large amounts of purple powder,” said Lauritsen.

The employee who was nearest to the mess responded immediately. The man was red in the face and had a strong burning sensation in the nose and throat. A medical examination confirmed that he was not seriously injured, but no health care system can provide answers to the type of powder that caused his symptoms.

“We have sent samples to a laboratory and are waiting in anticipation for the result,” said the operations manager.

The governor and the island’s police authority have been notified about the frightening powder, as has the Local Board of Longyearbyen.

Until the facility is opened again, he expects that some rubbish will build up among the approximately 2000 residents in the city.

“We apologize for the slightly delayed operation, and are encouraging the business sector and households to be careful to sort the waste. This powder should, no matter what it is, be delivered as hazardous waste,” says Hans Peter Lauritsen.

Source: Aftenposten

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