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Terror Alert at Utah Chemical Depot

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posted on Sep, 5 2002 @ 03:15 PM
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By PAUL FOY
Associated Press Writer
AP/Douglas C. Pizac

TOOELE, Utah (AP) An Army depot where nerve gas and other chemical weapons are stored sounded a terrorist alert Thursday after a possible intruder was reported.

One person was spotted within the heavily guarded perimeter, touching off a search, said Sheila Culley, a spokeswoman at the Deseret Chemical Depot. Four hours later, the trespasser, apparently dressed in dark clothing, had not been caught, authorities said.

In Washington, a senior administration official speaking on condition of anonymity said there was no evidence that anything was stolen or that terrorism was involved.

The possible intruder was spotted about a mile from the incinerator used to destroy the chemical weapons, said Chris Kramer of the Utah Department of Public Safety.

Sheriff's deputies set up a roadblock around the depot after the alarm sounded at 9:24 a.m. and state law officers used a helicopter to search the grounds. There were no immediate evacuations of the depot or surrounding areas.

The depot, which is about 45 miles southwest of Salt Lake City and covers 19,000 acres of mostly barren, wind-swept desert dominated by sagebrush, stores chemical weapons such as nerve gas and mustard gas. It has been destroying a stockpile of deadly chemical weapons since 1996.

Earlier this year, it finished destroying the largest stockpile of sarin nerve gas in the United States. It is scheduled to destroy 1,300 tons of VX, a more toxic but less volatile nerve agent, and 6,100 tons of mustard gas, a blister agent that can dissolve tissue on contact.

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