Four workers poisoned at Russian chemical weapons disposal plant

A special commission has determined that a September 11, 2010, poisoning of four workers at the Maradykovsky in a chemical weapons disposal plant in the Kirov region of Russia was not caused by a leakage of the nerve agent soman.

The commission found that the four workers were actually poisoned by much less harmful substances that occur from the detoxification of soman, reports.

Soman, along with VX, yperite, lewisite and sarin, make up the major combat nerve gases that can be found in the over 40,000 aerial bombs and warheads kept in storage at Maradykovsky since the 1950s.

“The commission determined that during the start-up work on the reaction mass burning facility, four Khimmashstart workers poisoned with substances resulting from the detoxification of viscous soman,” Valery Kapashin, head of the Federal Department for Safe Storage and Disposal of Chemical Weapons, said, according “The commission did not detect any soman leakage.”

Personnel at the facility resumed work on October 1.

The chemical plant has destroyed over 70 percent of the chemical weapons stored there since it became operational in September 2006, reports. A total of 99.4 percent of all VX gases and 232,599 kilograms of sarin have been destroyed at the plant. Maradykovsky plans to destroy the entire stock of weapons by 2012. The plant is the second-largest facility by number of chemical agents to be destroyed in Russia.