Nerve gas bomb found during cleanup at former arsenal site

Associated Press

DENVER — A grapefruit-size bomb containing 1.3 pounds of sarin nerve gas was found in a junkyard at the former Rocky Mountain Arsenal and probably will be disposed of by detonation, officials said.

Sarin was used in the Japanese terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995 that killed 12 people. The chemical paralyzes nerves, shutting down the lungs and other vital organs.

The aluminum gas canister, designed for delivery in a warhead, was found Monday afternoon by a contractor sorting pipes and industrial scrap inside a fenced area at the arsenal, the nation’s largest Superfund site, spokeswoman Ruth Mecham said Friday.

Tests determined the canister was unstable and could not be moved for disposal, so it likely will be detonated at the site.

Mecham said experts would use sufficient explosives to vaporize the sarin, preventing a threat to those living at the edges of the 27-square-mile compound. No date has been set for the detonation.

The arsenal, which opened in 1942, manufactured chemical weapons until the mid-1960s. Pesticides were produced at the site by private companies until 1982. A $2 billion cleanup began in 1985.

Plans call for the arsenal to be converted into a wildlife refuge. Tours at the site, which is home to bald eagles, coyotes and pelicans, have been suspended.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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