Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | July 30, 2008

Lawyer Sanders says U.S. Army confirms leak of mustard gas from 155 mm shell at Army’s Blue Grass Chemical Weapons Depot

Officials at Blue Grass Army depot have confirmed another vapor leak at the chemical weapons stockpile in a chemical weapons storage igloo in Richmond. The leak occurred in an igloo that stores 155 milimeter H-agent artillery shells.  The leak involves blister agent H, known as mustard.  A blister agent (also known as a vesicant) is a chemical compound that causes severe skin, eye and mucosal pain and irritation. They are named for their ability to cause large, painful water blisters on the bodies of those affected.

The Army discovered the leak during a routine weekly check of air inside the storage igloo. It’s the first confirmed detection of H-agent in more than three years. At least two other vapor leaks involving sarin have been detected in the past year.  Sarin is an extremely toxic substance whose sole known application is as a nerve agent.

Sulfur mustards were introduced as chemical warfare agents during World War I. More than a dozen countries have sulfur mustard agents in their chemical arsenals. Destruction of U.S. stockpiles of chemical agents, including sulfur mustards, was mandated by the Chemical Weapons Convention to take place before April 2007.

The U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services (DHHS) has determined that blister agent H/HD is a known human carcinogen. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified agent H/HD as carcinogenic to humans. Studies in humans indicate that long-term exposure to sulfur mustards may lead to cancer of the upper respiratory airways.

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