Army Admits Nerve Gas Leak Detectors in Kentucky Did Not Work for Two Years

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Proper storage of deadly nerve gas agents at military facilities requires the use of monitoring devices to ensure the protection of base personnel and local communities from possible leaks. But the operators of the Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky allowed such leak detectors to be removed from underground igloos housing nerve gas munitions—a critical safety violation that existed for two years. The danger was only exposed after a chemical weapons monitoring specialist blew the whistle on the situation, prompting the U.S. Army’s inspector general to investigate the depot in 2006. The IG’s report, though, was withheld from the public until this week, after an advocacy group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), finally won its three-year battle with the Army to release the Blue Grass findings.

“At Blue Grass, the Army was flying blind in protecting its chemical weapons stockpile,” stated PEER senior counsel Paula Dinerstein. “Incredibly, the Army’s attitude appears to be that since no workers or civilians were killed, then no harm no foul.”
PEER also noted that the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection did its own investigation of the depot and confirmed many of problems disclosed by whistleblower Donald Van Winkle. State officials purportedly said there was no way to know for sure if any nerve gas leaked while the monitoring equipment was inoperable.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Nerve Gas Leak Detectors Inoperative For Years (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility press release)
Army to Banish Whistleblower From Chemical Weapons Depot (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility press release)
Army Inspector General Report on Blue Grass (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility press release) (PDF)


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