Abandoned chemicals from biological weapons defense facility detonated

Officials with the San Diego Fire Rescue team were on scene to detonate abandoned hazardous material last week at a facility in Sorrento Valley, Calif.

NBCSanDiego.com reports that the chemicals were abandoned in April by local weapons defense contractor Aries Associates shortly after it filed for bankruptcy. Aries filed for bankruptcy following an intellectual property rights lawsuit with L-3 Communications, which leased space from Aries, according to the report.

The chemicals, which were not disclosed in the report, could have been dangerous to humans, but that risk has since been greatly minimized, according to Robert Wise, the federal on-scene coordinator of the cleanup with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“Right now, there is minimal risk,” Wise told NBCSanDiego.com. “If the facility was to sit there abandoned, there could be a risk of fire or other type of spill, if someone was to get in there who didn't know what they were doing.”

Twelve bottles of unstable chemicals that officials feared could explode is shaken or exposed to heat were detonated .

“The reason we’re getting rid of them is that we don’t feel they’re safe to put them on the highways of the United States to ship them to another state to burn them,” Wise told SDCityBeat.com. “It’s pretty much standard to do this.”

The facility was previously used to develop strategies for decontaminating areas damaged by a biological weapons attacks. The facility. SDCityBeat.com reports, contains more than 2,500 chemicals, many of which are not labeled.

Wise told NBCSanDiego.com that the cleanup, which could cost upwards of $150,000, should be complete by the end of the week.