clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Leak found in nerve agent tank

A spray tank holding 160 gallons of deadly VX nerve agent was discovered leaking inside its protective packing on Thursday, according to Deseret Chemical Depot spokesman Chuck Sprague.

Deseret Chemical Depot is the site of the Army's $1 billion chemical weapons incinerator, which is on the verge of beginning the destruction of oily VX agent.

The viscous material is more deadly than the GB (sarin) agent. The plant has completed its destruction of arms and storage containers of GB.

The leaking VX tank was inside an overpack container, which locked in the nerve agent that leaked. The containers are kept in storage igloos.

"They were running tests on all of those containers and discovered that agent was inside of the container, which means something's wrong in there," Sprague said.

Readings of monitoring equipment inside the container showed the tank was leaking.

None of the agent was released into the environment because the overpack container did its job, Sprague said. The container "was verified safe," he added. "There was no danger to workers or to the environment."

Once workers realized they had a "leaker" inside, they moved the container to an isolated igloo where it will be monitored until the containers are destroyed in the incinerator.

When the time comes for the container to be processed at the plant, Sprague said, "they'll take special precautions."

Asked how badly the spray tank leaked, Sprague indicated it wasn't so severe that a lot of liquid nerve agent sloshed into the overpack container.

"I would say it's a vapor leak because the readings were low," he said.