Authorities in Pyay have intervened after two military trucks carrying acid featured on the Ministry of Industry’s list of prohibited and restricted chemicals entered a residential ward of the central Burmese town on Thursday.
Locals alerted police after the two trucks, belonging to the army’s Mingaladon vehicle fleet in Rangoon, transported the acid in 144 five-gallon jerry cans to a battery-making workshop in Gandamar ward, where they were weighed.
The acid is listed among chemical substances that cannot be manufactured, imported, used or sold in the country without official permission from the Ministry of Industry.
“We can’t accept the acid being stored in our ward. It puts residents in significant danger. Therefore we informed [the police] and relevant authorities,” said Ko Thet Khaing, a Gandamar ward administrator.
U Kyaw Win, owner of a licensed battery-manufacturing business called Green Power in western Pegu Region, where Pyay is situated, said that restricted chemical substances could not be transferred or sold to a third party.
“Only with the approval [of authorities] at township, district and regional levels, and with the signature of the security and border affairs minister, can we use that acid for battery-making,” said U Kyaw Win.
“Supposing we bought acid from Rangoon, we would have to store it at a designated place. We would not even be allowed to move it next door to that place,” he added.
The two trucks have been taken to the military’s Pyay Regional Operations Command headquarters in the town, where an investigation is underway, according to Lt Than Tun Aung of Pyay No. 2 Police Station.
“We will only know what actions will be taken after the investigation is concluded. It does not appear that they [soldiers commanding the trucks] actually sold [the acid]. The serial numbers on the jerry cans match with those on the documents,” the police officer said.
According to the Prevention from Danger of Chemical and Associated Materials Law, enacted in August 2013, producing, using, storing, distributing, selling, transporting, importing or exporting restricted chemicals is punishable by up to seven years in prison.