RICHMOND, KY -- Army officials confirmed Friday that sarin nerve agent is leaking from a container at the Blue Grass Army Depot, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader in its Saturday edition.
A mobile laboratory conducting a routine check within one of the chemical agent storage igloos tested positive for the nerve agent GB (sarin). The leak was in the same igloo that sprang a leak last August, the Army said in a press release.
“It may be the same leak reopening, it's a high possibility,” said depot public affairs officer Richard Sloan.
The igloo, which is a 90-foot-long concrete bunker covered in dirt, contains three GB ton containers and several secondary waste drums. The igloo has been continuously filtered and monitored daily since the leak was identified and sealed in August, and officials stressed that no chemical agents have escaped the containment igloo.
“It's still at the bottom of the detection level,” Sloan said. “It poses no risk whatsoever to the general public or the environment.”
Workers are planning to inspect the ton container on Monday and will weigh their options for possible correction methods.
The igloo will remain under continuous filtration to ensure that any agent vapor within the igloo cannot escape to the outside atmosphere during the inspection.
The leak in August spurred a re-examination of the filtration and monitoring systems in the igloos. After that initial leak, the specific igloo has been under 24-hour surveillance.
Craig Williams, director of the Berea watchdog organization Chemicals Weapons Working Group, said that wasn't enough.
“Are all of the igloos monitored on constant basis?” he asked. “The answer is no. Those which don't have a history of leaking get monitored once a week. That to me is not adequate.”
Williams said that, under the current system, if an igloo is monitored and a leak springs the next day it will be a full six days before staff detect the problem.
Madison County, surrounding counties and Kentucky emergency management officials were notified immediately of the vapor detection and will be continuously updated of any new developments, an Army press release said.
“Along with transparency, safety of environment and the community are our top concerns,” Sloan said.
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