Leaking Mustard Agent Detected at Chemical Depot

Leaking Mustard Agent Detected at Chemical Depot

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STOCKTON, Utah (AP) -- Two Cold War-era containers with leaking mustard agent were found this week in storage igloos at a chemical destruction site.

There were no injuries or damage to the environment in discoveries Monday and Tuesday at the Deseret Chemical Depot, said U.S. Army civilian spokesman Chuck Sprague.

About a cup of molasses-thick mustard leaked from the 155mm munition found Tuesday at the site about 45 miles southwest of Salt Lake City.

"Typically, mustard will ooze out near the warhead, and ooze out over the side and down the round side of the projectile," he said.

Only vapor contained inside the igloo was discovered in Monday's incident.

The agents were found when a plastic hose from a mobile chemical detection van was placed inside the igloos during routine inspections.

"They have a sniffing device they hook up that igloo in front, where they can analyze the ambient air inside these closed igloos," Sprague said.

Crews wearing protective suits decontaminated the affected areas and packed the leaking projectiles into air-tight containers for continued storage and eventual destruction.

Temperature extremes apparently help lead to the leaks of the munitions, made during or before the Cold War as a military deterrent.

"This seems to be the time of year we have leakers with mustard emissions," Sprague said.

"Mustard turns into a solid at 58 degrees," he said of the problem that diminishes in the winter.

The Deseret Chemical Depot started destroying the nation's largest stockpile of chemical weapons in 1996.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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