Australia to destroy mustard gas shells

Australia's Department of Defense has announced that approximately 144 World War II-era mustard gas shells will be destroyed in a specially designed chamber.

A spokesman with the Department of Defense told that a contract was recently awarded for the destruction of the shells to the Australian company Milsearch. The mustard gas shells were discovered last year on the site of a World War II United States military base at Columboola, Australia, near Chinchilla.

Representatives with Milsearch will coordinate their efforts with an international team of U.S. demolitions experts who have comprehensive experience in the destruction of old munitions containing chemicals, the Department of Defense spokesman told

The spokesman also noted that special equipment will be transported to Australia to be set up on site within the next month or two. Destruction of the shells is expected to be completed by June of next year.

“The actual process of destruction, in a chamber specifically designed to destroy chemical munitions and capture and neutralize any emissions generated in the process, is expected to take seven to 14 days,” the spokesman told

While some remains of the old base have been recovered from the site, including the remains of a sentry tower and ammunition packing materials, no other intact munitions have been uncovered since the 144 shells were found.

The spokesman also said the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons experts will visit Australia before the destruction takes place to verify and inspect the old mustard gas shells.