May 10, 2010

Spring Valley Cleanup Lands on Front Page of Los Angeles Times

On March 29, a broken bottle spewed smoke inside the containment tent.  Tests show the fumes came from arsenic trichloride, which is poisonous by inhalation, skin contact or ingestion. Known as "arsenic butter," the compound was used to boost the lethality of mustard, a blister agent that reportedly caused more than 1 million casualties in World War I, and to produce lewisite, dubbed the "dew of death," and other chemical warfare agents.

The find was deemed so perilous that work has been halted until Army engineers can determine how to safely proceed.  "The concern is they may find a lot more, and there's a real question whether the air pollution controls are adequate," said Paul Chrostowski, an environmental scientist who monitors the cleanup for the university.  Kerwin, the university president, was forced to abandon his home for two years when his yard was dug up.  He and his wife moved back last fall after tests showed the hazard was gone.  "We may have to change our analysis now," Chrostowski said.  "He may have to move again."
Bob Drogin
Los Angeles Times
May 10, 2010 (pg. 1) 

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