Royal Dutch Shell Plc  .com Rotating Header Image Rocky Mountain Arsenal crews find no signs of weapons

Associated Press
Tuesday, November 20, 2007

DENVER — Experts have found no additional signs of a World War I-era chemical weapon at a spot on the Rocky Mountain Arsenal where cleanup work is being done.

Crews completed an investigation Monday into a section where lewisite was detected in October during work at the arsenal, once a classified chemical munitions plant 10 miles northeast of Denver.

Over five days, workers used a neutralizing solution on the soil and inspected the trench where the chemical was reported.

“The results consistently show that lewisite is no longer being detected in the area of the investigation,” said Charlie Scharmann, arsenal program manager.

Arsenal and federal, state and local health officials said they would confirm a plan to resume cleanup work at the Lime Basins project, where the chemical was detected.

Lewisite, like mustard gas, is a blistering agent. It penetrates clothing and even rubber and can be fatal if absorbed through the skin.

The contractors who reported the presence of the chemical were excavating a trench in a restricted area in the center of the arsenal. Officials said the workers wore protective clothing, were decontaminated and showed no symptoms of coming into contact with the lewisite.

The discovery of the chemical agent led to the closure of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, created on parts of the 17,000-acre site.

It’s not clear when the refuge will re-open.

The Army manufactured chemical weapons at the 27-square-mile site during World War II and the 1950s. Shell Oil produced pesticides and other chemicals there until 1982. The arsenal became a Superfund site in 1987, and Congress decided to turn it into a national wildlife refuge in the 1990s.

More than 12,000 acres of the site have been removed from the Superfund site and turned into a wildlife refuge.

The site is home to about 330 wildlife species, including deer and bald eagles.

Related Wikipedia article

Pollution at Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Denver, Colorado and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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