WWI chemical agent discovered at Maryland proving ground

Officials at Aberdeen Proving Ground, located near Aberdeen, Maryland, recently halted a demolition project after trace amounts of a World War I-era chemical agent were discovered.

Debris from the building demolition site contained lewisite, a chemical agent that can cause skin blisters and lung damage, according to WTOP.com.

Officials said no one was hurt by the agent, including the worker who noticed the chemical odor. As a precaution, the demolition site has been cordoned off. APG personnel and area residents are not facing adverse health risks, according to Aberdeen.Patch.com.

Acting Garrison Public Affairs Officer Adriane Foss said that emergency services personnel were called to the site twice after the suspicious odor was detected. Two days after the first call, lab samples confirmed the presence of the chemical agent.

"As a precaution, the excavation site's debris is being capped with a cover in order to fully ensure public safety," Bob Dimichele said. "The area has been secured by APG police and demolition work at the affected site remains halted while the potential hazard is being addressed. Safety remains our number one concern, and the post will use all assets at its disposal to assure that safety."

APG is the U.S. Army's oldest proving ground. It was created in 1917, shortly after the United States entered World War I. Currently, 21,000 civilian, military and contractor employees work at the site, which covers 72,500 acres near Chesapeake Bay.