Mustard agent vapor detected at Army chemical depot

The U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency reported that trace amounts of HD mustard chemical agent vapor were detected leaking inside a storage facility at the Umatilla Chemical Depot in Hermiston, Ore, on  May 13.

The leak was contained inside the storage facility, the release says, and there was never any danger to the public or the environment according to U.S. Army officials.

HD mustard chemical is a biological warfare agent that causes yellow blistering of the skin and can prove debilitating when humans are exposed to significant amounts.

The release states that the vapor was detected in an igloo-like storage structure at the Oregon facility that houses bulk containers of HD mustard chemical agent. Army officials will repair the leaking container if necessary once it is identified, inspected and decontaminated. The igloos' "passive filtration system" prevented the chemical agent vapor from escaping the structure and exposing the public to contamination, the release states.

Though the vapor release was contained inside the Umatilla Chemical Depot, it is protocol to notify the public when a leak is detected. Officials with emergency management agencies in Umatilla and Morrow counties in Oregon and Benton County in Washington were notified as well. So too were the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.