Health Threat Minimal from Mustard Gas Leak Doesn't Concern the Public - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Health Threat Minimal from Mustard Gas Leak Doesn't Concern the Public

HERMISTON, Ore.- The Army says the recent mustard gas leak at the Umatilla Chemical Weapons Depot doesn't pose a threat to the public, but still, local emergency responders were warned.

The mustard gas only leaked from it's container and from there it was contained within it's storage igloo, the gas never actually reached the environment.

It's the latest of what the Army calls "routine" leaks and Hermiston residents KNDU talked to say, even though it seems to happen all the time, they're not concerned.

It doesn't take much to see what the umatilla chemical weapons depot means to the City of Hermiston.  The town's main street is also an evacuation route, the Depot means steady jobs, so for longtime residents like Lori Royer, a routine leak is nothing to be concerned about.

"I've seen it all, like i said, it's been here a long time and we've lived with it for so long that now that it's going on and they're destroying the munitions, it doesn't seem to be that big of a concern," Royer said.

The Army refused to talk about Wednesday's leak on camera, but called it "routine," and "not a risk to the public."

"I think overall the community has faith, i don't think i'm the only one, or else everyone would have moved out of here and left town," said Hermiston resident Catherine Barnett.

The Army says the leak was not a concern because the toxic gas never actually reached the outside air; rather filters and a containment system kept it within it's storage igloo.

Still, local agencies like Benton County Emergency Services were notified.

We do have an obligation to the residents around that depot to make sure that if something does occur, we are absolutely ready to jump into action at a moment's notice.

Hermiston residents we talked to say the concern was much greater when the depot was first built, but since has died off because of leaks like this, leaks that are contained, and the confidence that gives the local community that they're safe.

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