Thursday, January 27, 2011

UPDATE: That military biological warfare lab was shut down over missing vial of one of the world's most deadly nerve agents, VX...

Combine that with the missing nukes and you have yourself some problems...

Missing vial of VX nerve agent locks down Dugway

An overnight lockdown, triggered when a vial of the deadly VX nerve agent went temporarily missing, was lifted Thursday morning at Utah’s sprawling, 801,000-acre Dugway Proving Ground.

Officials at the remote Army installation, 90 miles southwest of Salt Lake City in Utah’s western desert, abruptly ordered gates closed at 5:24 p.m. Wednesday. Up to 2,200 people at Dugway — military personnel, contractors and civilian workers — were forced to stay the night.

Dugway spokeswoman Paula Nicholson said Thursday that the lockdown was ordered after a “routine inventory of sensitive material in the chemical laboratory ... discovered a discrepancy between the records and the agent on-hand. As a precaution, the commander immediately locked down the installation and began efforts to identify the cause of the discrepancy. “

The vial was located, uncompromised, at 3 a.m. Thursday within the facility.

Col. William King said workers who took the vial — which contained less than 1 milliliter of VX, or about a quarter-teaspoon — were performing routine tests on sensor equipment. When the tests were finished, they returned the nerve agent to a mislabeled vial. A later inventory check noticed the discrepancy.

“There was no malicious intent. This was simply an administrative error,” King said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, VX is within a family of toxic and potentially deadly chemical warfare nerve agents. An amber oily substance in its liquid form, severe VX exposure can induce convulsions and respiratory failure.

VX is not the most deadly nerve agent on the base, King said, but if it touches a person’s skin it can be “very deadly.”


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