Work begins to decontaminate sites in Salisbury spy poisoning

Salisbury Spy incident - Zizzi restaurant March 11 2018 (Spire FM Mike Draper) (1)

11:35am 17th April 2018
(Updated 5:24am 20th April 2018)

Clean up work after the nerve agent attack in Salisbury more than six weeks ago is finally getting underway.

DEFRA which is leading the operation has confirmed nine sites will need "specialist cleaning" following the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal on 4th March.

Three of those sites are in the city centre, the Maltings where the couple were found slumped on a bench and the restaurant Zizzi and pub The Mill where they visited.

Work to clean each site will involve a process of testing, removing items which may have been contaminated, chemical cleaning and retesting.

Government officials have revealed that the nerve agent used to poison Sergei and Yulia Skripal was delivered 'in a liquid form.'

In a press conference on Tuesday (17th April) they revealed the Skripal's home in the city was targeted with a "very small amount of novichok."

The highest concentration was found at the property in Christie Miller Road, and a further eight areas were potentially contaminated.

A spokesman from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said:

"In this instance, direct contact is required for a person to poisoned. Only a small proportion of the material is transferred in each contact and the substance is diluted in each secondary or tertiary contact.

"The class of nerve agent does not produce significant vapour or gas and can only be moved between sites by direct transfer from a contaminated person or by moving a contaminated item."

FULL LIST OF SITES TO BE DE-CONTAMINATED:

  • The Maltings
  • Zizzi 
  • The Mill
  • Salisbury ambulance Station
  • Amesbury ambulance Station
  • Ashley Wood compound on Churchfields
  • Police officer Nick Bailey's home in Alderholt 
  • Sergei Skripal's home in Christie Miller road
  • Two areas of Bourne Hill

Maltings Cordon Russian Spy

DEFRA's Chief Scientific Adviser Ian Boyd is chairing of the decontamination group overseeing all this work said:

"Our approach is based on the best scientific evidence and advice to ensure decontamination is carried out in a thorough and careful way. Our number one priority is making these sites safe for the public, so they can be returned to the use for the people of Salisbury.

"Thanks to the detailed information gathered during the police's investigation, and our scientific understanding of how the agent works and is spread, we have been able to categorise the likely level of contamination at each site and are drawing up tailored plans.

"Meticulous work is required and we expect it will be a number of months before sites are fully reopened."

Around 190 specialist military personnel from the Army and the RAF will help in the huge operation.

Current cordons will be replaced with secure fencing backed by police patrols and security guards, some of those cordons will be temporarily extended to allow workers access with specialist equipment.

Officials say they'll try to keep disruption to a minimum.

No site will be released back to public use until test results and the work undertaken has been reviewed.

We're being warned the whole process could take "months" and we're told it's hoped all the clean-up work will be completed by the end of 2018.

Maltings cordon incident

WORK AT THE SKRIPALS' HOUSE: 

Defra say they don't currently have access to the Christie Miller Road site, where the highest concentration of the nerve agent was found. 

They'll be able to start cleaning up as soon as the investigations end there.

At this stage, it's unclear whether local residents will have to leave the area while the decontamination takes place.

Defra have told us they don't plan to evacuate anyone, but admit that it is a possibility.

ONE CORDON RELAXED: 

The cordon that had been set up at the London Road cemetery since the major incident was declared remains open for the public,

But it's been revealed today (Tuesday April 17th) that after extensive investigations and testing, there's no contamination at that site.

Baroness Jane Scott, leader of Wiltshire Council said:

"We are pleased that work will be starting to decontaminate sites affected by the shocking attack in our city. Working together with local and national agencies we are doing all we can to help Salisbury return to normal. Our main concern is to ensure that Salisbury is safe for residents, businesses and visitors and that the city can focus on the future, its recovery and that it will go from strength to strength."

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