The Richmond Register

October 29, 2013

Army: Chemical leak at depot did not enter atmosphere

By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer

MADISON COUNTY — Crews at the Blue Grass Army Depot detected a chemical weapon leak Monday within one of the storage igloos at the base.

The vapor leak of the GB round was contained within the igloo and was not detected in the air outside the structure, according to a news release from Blue Grass Chemical Activity spokesperson Jana Felts.

The release was detected by a mobile monitoring laboratory during routine analysis of the atmosphere within the igloo, Felts said in the release.

A powered filter has been connected to the igloo to ensure the leak does not enter the outside atmosphere, she added.

Felts said the next step to ensure safety is to determine which round in the igloo has developed the leak. It will then be “overpacked,” or placed within a larger, sealed container. The leaking munition then be moved to a separate igloo, and follow-on monitoring will be conducted, she said.

GB, also known sarin, is a nerve agent that is stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot along with VX and mustard gas munitions. The 523 tons of chemical weapons are slated for destruction by 2021.

Madison County Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program Director Michael Bryant said the county’s emergency management agency was alerted when the vapor was detected, and area police departments, fire departments and EMS agencies also were notified.

Every day the county’s emergency management staff is given in a “morning brief” in which they are informed about the day’s activities at the depot, Bryant said.

“We know exactly what they’re doing each day,” Bryant said.

Bryant said this is the first GB vapor leak at the depot in several years.

Sarah Hogsed can be reached at shogsed@richmondregister.com or 624-6694.