Rocket leaking sarin gas found at Blue Grass Army Depot

U.S. Army officials with the Blue Grass Army Depot, in Richmond, Kentucky, reported that a M55 rocket leaking sarin gas was discovered August 10 during a routine inspection of its chemical weapons stockpile.

The vapors were discovered inside the rocket’s air-tight shipping and firing tube, Army officials told the Richmond Register.

Richard Sloan, Army spokesman for the depot, said that crews periodically remove an inspection bolt in the tube to sample the air inside and that this is the likely cause of the leak.

“The low-level agent vapor was confined to the interior of the tube and no agent vapor was detected within the igloo atmosphere,” Sloan told the Richmond Register. “The rocket, enclosed in the shipping and firing tube, will be overpacked in a leakproof container. It will then be moved to another igloo containing only overpacked GB munitions as soon as possible.

“Although this leak posed no danger or risk to the citizens of Madison County, the county Emergency Management and the Commonwealth of Kentucky Emergency Management Agencies were notified of the leak.”

Sarin is an odorless, colorless liquid that is used as a chemical weapon. Sarin has a high volatility relative to similar nerve agents. Inhalation and absorption through the skin pose a great threat.

Even sarin gas vapor concentrations immediately penetrate the skin. People who absorb a non-lethal dose but do not receive immediate appropriate medical treatment may suffer permanent neurological damage.

Sarin was used in the 1995 Aum Shinrikyo that killed 13 people and injured approximately 50 others.