The Australian Defense Department is not providing many details about the recent discovery of mustard agent shells at the site of an old U.S. military weapons facility near Columboola, the Toowoomba Chronicle reported yesterday (see GSN, Nov. 9).
Defense officials are set to discuss the situation with Western Downs Regional Council representatives in the coming days, an Australian Defense Force spokesman said Monday. The officials are believed to be chemical weapons experts assigned to check out the depot.
Surveyors conducting work for a coal mining firm discovered 144 undetonated shells earlier this year. The amount of time the munitions had been left at the site and whether they had since been relocated were not immediately known.
"Defense technicians attended to the items and using specialist equipment were able to confirm that at least three of these munitions contained a mustard agent," the spokesman said. He added: "The munitions are securely and safely stored and are not a hazard in their current state" (Stuart Cumming, Toowoomba Chronicle, Nov. 10).