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Is World War II Mustard Gas Stashed At Horn Island In Gulf Islands National Seashore?


An area on Horn Island, an island in Gulf Islands National Seashore that offers primitive camping experiences, has been closed to the public following the discovery of hazardous materials, including, possibly, mustard gas. NPS photo.

Hazardous materials, possibly mustard gas weapons left over from World War II as well as asbestos, have been found on Horn Island in Gulf Islands National Seashore, leading the National Park Service to close part of the island to the public for the immediate future.

Park officials, who planned Monday to hold a press briefing on the matter, instituted a 1,000-foot closure around an area along the northwestern shore of the island, which is located just off the Mississippi coast, late last week. A military facility was located there during World War II, according to the Park Service.

"We received confirmation Thursday that there are asbestos materials on the ground on the northwestern shore of the island in an area that contains the remains of a military facility that was active in the 1940s," Superintendent Dan Brown said in a release. "A preliminary test also indicated the possible presence of a chemical agent known commonly as mustard gas. We are still awaiting confirmation of that."

The superintendent also announced that, "based on an initial records search that was done, we have reason to believe that some containers of mustard gas may have been deposited in the island's Big Lagoon. We are therefore closing the portion of the lagoon that we own and we are notifying the owners of those nearby privately-owned tracts of the potential hazard."

In his statement last week, the superintendent said a team of experts was being called in to help the Park Service assess the possible dangers surrounding the materials.

Although the National Park Service acquired the island in 1971, the matter of hazardous materials that might have been stored there when the military used the island during World War II didn't come up until this past June, when British Petroleum asked the Park Service to provide a list of potential chemical and biological hazards on Horn Island before the company deployed their cleanup crews team as part of the Deepwater Horizon response.

The NPS contracted with the environmental services firm Barksdale & Associates to conduct a preliminary site assessment and inspection, including tests for multiple contaminants. This led to the discovery of the contaminants.

The list of other potential contaminants came from an initial review of the site's historical records and includes: botulinum toxin, ricin, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), pesticides, polychlorina ted biphenyls (PCB), dioxins and furans, as well as the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) metals (silver, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, mercury, lead, and selenium).


And how many of those compounds discovered in the sand may also be the results of ordinary activities along the Gulf Coast? Coming possibly from some of the many chemical plants, oil refineries and other industries that are spread throughout that region?

But remember, the EPA kills jobs and needs to be eliminated according to some people of power.

Hey Lee, could you support the EPA's mission but admit to the overreach and abuses that are very evident within the administration? Ideologues?

Which administration? George W. Bush's?

Ok, ok, ok folks. I think we can agree that no one administration can claim a monopoly on over-reach and abuses. Perhaps a better question would be why the Army didn't clean up the island before giving it over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which transferred it to the Park Service?

And how many of those compounds discovered in the sand may also be the results of ordinary activities along the Gulf Coast?

Yes Lee - how many? As far as you know - none. But that doesn't stop you from throwing out the accusation. I guess because mustard gas and asbestos come from chemical plants and refinaries. Perhaps we shouldn't have fought WWII because of those contaminets. YesLlewelyn, the EPAcjibs needlessly cost jobs and CAFE kills.

Who knows what else could still be left (or no longer where it's supposed to be) after Hurricane Katrina? Wouldn't this previous owners and possible hazardous contents list have been pulled then?

Maybe it's because I'm old enough to remember America before the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. Have any of you traveled through the "Chemical Corridor" along the Gulf Coast and tried to breathe the air down there? You should have seen it back in the 1960's and earlier.

Or Cleveland, Ohio or Youngstown in those days when the Cuyahoga River caught fire once or twice a year and people had to brush a daily coating of red dust from their cars downwind of the steel mills. Or Farmington, New Mexico just after the Four Corners coal fire electric plant spewed such clouds of fly ash that I was unable to make a visual approach and landing at the airport downwind from the plant.

It seems pathetically ironic that people who claim to be conservatives keep talking and writing about something called "responsibility" but are unwilling to push businesses to actually use it. Perhaps "responsibility" is only for those who don't have enough power to force wealthy people and industrial conglomerates to accept responsibility for their actions and the consequences thereof.

For those of us who have witnessed the irresponsibility that is part of the history of America and the world, we are sometimes appalled by the apparent short sightedness of some people these days.

I don't think I was making an accusation above. I was asking a question. A question that probably really needs to be answered. For those who accuse people like me of being some kind of "liberal," there is one thing to remember. A "liberal" is really a responsible conservative who won't allow anyone to fool us.

Lee, according to your first post, if true, then these hazardous materials would we be found on all the islands, not just one little portion of one little island. This report is very specific on what was found and where it was found. It was neither political or environmental in nature. It is a well-written article on what was found and what they are trying to do about it. Leave them alone to work on it and quit second-guessing and throwing out accusations. They are not warranted in this instance.

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