Sunday, August 22, 2004

Update: Mustard munition

Three members of the USAF’s 436th CE Squadron’s EOD flight (Dover AFB) examined a “75mm MK II WWI vintage” shell that had not been fired. They then placed a charge on it to render it safe. This cracked the shell, and a “black substance was observed coming from the residue.” The pieces were collected, placed in a container and taken to the Dover AFB munitions storage area.

The next day two of the EOD airmen reported to work with skin rashes and blisters. Those two were taken to the hospital and released. The third was kept hospitalized in stable conditions with some very nasty blisters. The photos I’ve seen of his arms are very disturbing.

The munition was found in Bridgeville, Delaware and local authorities called Dover AFB for help. It had been taken to DAFB on the 19th of Jul 2004, and this incident happened the next day. As far as I can tell it was found in a road (at a poultry farm) that was made using crushed shells (the oyster kind). Surplus ammo was dumped in the ocean, and I guess no one is around who remembers that happened. One curious thing, however, is that you’d think someone would have noticed a 75mm round that is almost a foot in length while crushing the shells, or screening them for size, or screening to remove large rocks and such. But I don’t know that these actions were done, though if they were not it seems an odd lack of QA.

Mustard exposure is nasty. I personally know someone who got a single drop on himself, and the blistering was almost necrotic in nature and took a long time to finally heal.

I don’t know what the status is of that third airman, Google news searches aren’t helping, but I wish that man well. Aim High!


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