Jan 10, 2013

Photograph of AUES Arsine Still Indicates Large Scale Production

Three arsine shells were found on the 4825 Glenbrook Road property ... Unlike buried liquid agent, these shells — which would have eventually rusted through and breached on site — would have released a large quantity of very deadly gas that would have immediately pushed up through the soil into the atmosphere, settling in any nearby basement or low area.  Arsine is odorless and colorless.  Unlike Lewisite, it does not sting the eyes.  It is lethal over time at 1 or 2 parts per million and immediately dangerous to life and health at 250 ppm.  Now I have obtained a picture of the AUES arsine still (below).  Due to its size, I'm wondering if perhaps the current Corps plans have taken into account that there may be a larger quantity of arsine compressed gas shells or cylinders found on that site?
The apparatus on the left with the square tank on top is where the metal arsenide would be placed in the "generators" and dilute sulfuric acid (that's what's in the square tank) would be added to produce the arsine gas.  The gas would flow into a large gasometer (the round wooden tub in the middle) and the gasometer would meter out a steady rate of arsine to the drying towers (which are the four tall upright columns on the right hand side of the photo, filled with quick lime).  Once the gas was dried, it would be cooled and pressurized to convert it to a liquid and be ready for storage or loading into shells.  My guess is this took place in the wooden shack in the back of the photo. 
The stack of metal pipe sections in the foreground ... were perhaps the storage containers for the metal arsenide ... You would want to store it in airtight containers because any moisture coming into contact with arsenide would produce arsine gas.  Maybe those metal "pipe sections" are empty arsenide storage containers that were used to charge the arsine generators?  The generators would be charged with 800 lbs. of arsenide and a batch process would produce about 60 lbs. of liquid arsine greater than 94% pure.  Running the batch process took about three hours.  The AUES produced about 4000 lbs. of arsine, so they ran this plant about 65 times.    
WMD Specialist
January 10, 2013

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