Leaky Fort Greely barrels not weapon material

Posted: Sunday, May 26, 2002

FAIRBANKS - The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation says 24 leaky World War II-era barrels unearthed at Fort Greely last month apparently contained nothing more exotic than weathered sulfuric acid, not a chemical warfare agent.

Several tests were run on the substance that was leaking from some of the rusty, crushed barrels accidentally unearthed April 8 by contract construction workers, the DEC said.

The testers reached the conclusion that it was most likely sulfuric acid. That substance can be produced when a decontamination product formerly used by the military breaks down.

The DEC results match the conclusions of preliminary field tests, which determined that the product was highly acidic but not a chemical warfare agent.

The barrels were found within a half-acre area about a mile from the main group of Fort Greely buildings and less than 2 miles east of the Richardson Highway, according to U.S. Army Alaska spokesman Chuck Canterbury.

They were uncovered about 3 feet below the ground surface by workers for the Anchorage-based Aglaq Corp. and subcontractor Brice Inc. who were preparing the site for Fort Greely's National Missile Defense System.

Some of the barrels were leaking a "greenish and yellow," material into the soil. The drums were labeled C.W.S, the acronym for the Army's former Chemical Warfare Service.

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