Founders Heritage Park was closed on Tuesday while the park’s collection was checked for a possible explosive acid.
Potential explosive acid at Founders Heritage Park in Nelson forced the evacuation of the park on Tuesday, along with a nearby daycare center and marae building.
Police are warning people to avoid the area, while the New Zealand Defense Force’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Unit is “conducting an assessment of explosive material,” police said in a press release on Tuesday.
The parking lot at Founders Heritage Park, a daycare center and a building in Whakatū Marae have been evacuated for security reasons.
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“Police will be present in the area for the next few hours while the NZDF’s EOD unit safely removes the material,” a police statement said.
In a statement, Nelson City Council said items from the park’s collection are being examined for picric acid.
“Picric acid was widely used in early forms of medicine and medical supplies, including on gauze pads, and as an antiseptic. It is a volatile substance that is sensitive to heat, friction and shock and has been used as a military explosive.
“All items considered dangerous will be removed for safe removal off site.”
The council had revised its collections after the substance was discovered in a museum in Southland, the statement said.
“When examining the park’s inventory, a number of bottles and other items containing potentially hazardous substances were found. Picric acid is suspected to be present, but this has not been confirmed.”
At the end of last week, the municipality closed two of the park’s collection storage areas and the community pharmacy and hospital. The police were notified on Monday.
The park was closed and tenants were asked to evacuate that day, but roads around the park remained open.
The Council’s group manager of community services, Andrew White, said there was no immediate risk to the public.
“We are working as quickly as we can to safely and appropriately identify and dispose of dangerous items.”
A spokesman for the New Zealand Defense Force said they had been called out across the country for several requests for picric acid as museums assessed their collections.
“Picric acid is a yellow, toxic substance. It is stable when hydrated, but becomes flammable when the water content is less than 30 percent, and poses a high explosion hazard when dry. Dry picric acid is sensitive to heat, shock and friction.”
Earlier this month, the discovery of the acid in a bottle at the Napier Museum also prompted an evacuation.