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World War II munitions with mustard agent found at Deseret Chemical Depot

Published: Monday, May 20 2013 2:15 p.m. MDT

This photo shows the empty above-ground storage igloos that once stored chemical munitions at the Deseret Chemical Depot in Stockton on Wednesday, January 18, 2012. Authorities have confirmed that 11 World War II-era cartridges discovered during the environmental cleanup of Deseret Chemical Depot contain liquid blister agent.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

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STOCKTON, Tooele County — Authorities have confirmed that 11 World War II-era cartridges discovered during the environmental cleanup of Deseret Chemical Depot contain liquid blister agent.

The 4.2-inch mortar cartridges were rusty and non-explosively configured, according to a statement released by the depot.

Technicians with the U.S. Army 20th Support Command Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High Yield Explosives used a portable device to identify mustard agent in the munitions, which since have been secured in air-tight containers.

Alaine Grieser, a depot spokeswoman, said the cartridges were removed from the area where chemical munitions were destroyed from 1945 to 1978.

Under the oversight of the Corps of Engineers, an extensive geological survey was conducted last year on the 270-acre site prior to any surface disturbance or removal of any debris potentially contaminated with chemical agent.

The recently discovered munitions, as well as any munitions that may be discovered in the future, will be treated on site using a mobile destruction system that has already processed more than 1,600 items throughout the United States.

Depot officials said there has been no risk to the public regarding the discovered munitions and their subsequent handling.

"These projects are part of our closure mission," said Col. Mark B. Pomeroy, depot commander. "It shows the Army deeply cares about the community that has supported this depot for 70 years."

Environmental remediation projects at the depot are expected to continue through 2014, including cleanup and restoration of areas where industrial waste from routine depot operations may have been dumped or where waste from munitions was stored and destroyed.

"It's all kind of debris from metal scrap, slag, to empty drums to sewage treatment," Grieser said.

Email: amyjoi@deseretnews.com

Twitter: amyjoi16

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