Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Clams on the half shell, spiced with mustard gas

A crew of fishermen off the coast of Massachusetts caught more than they expected while dredging for clams.  The pulled up three canisters of what is believed to be mustard gas. When one of them was found to be leaking, they threw them overboard, but apparently not before they were exposed enough to have some respiratory distress and skin irritation.

They got lucky.   Those old agents are no joke.  People who complain about a little tear gas at the Up With People rally should try being exposed to a real chemical weapon.

When I was a Boy Scout, we met with a group of World War I and II veterans about the meaning of Memorial Day and Veteran's Day.  They were explaining to us about Buddy Poppies, and what we as scouts could do to help disabled veterans.  One of the gentlemen wore long sleeves and gloves, even though it was extremely hot and muggy.  One of the younger scouts asked him about it, and he said he'd been wounded in the war, and didn't want to scare anyone with the scars.  Seems his unit had been hit with mustard gas and he didn't get covered up quickly enough.  He never did show us those scars, but if a grown man is cautious about covering up his battle scars because they'd scare children, they were probably pretty horrendous.

Later, when I was the assistant Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological NCO for my company, I got to watch a lot of training film about how different chemical weapons worked and what they did to test animals.  None of it was something I really want to think about again.  Suffice it to say that the threat of someone using chemical weapons against a city gives me a cold shiver down my back.

Those fishermen are extremely lucky that only got minimal exposure to agents that were old and probably very cold from being in the water.  Here's hoping that they heal and that their boat gets de-conned properly so they can get back to their business.  By the way, someone should tell the local firechief that mustard gas is a blistering agent, not a nerve agent.  If that had been VX instead of mustard, none of those guys would have made it off the boat alive.

1 comment:

Shannon said...

The sheer reality of this subject makes my skin crawl. Blistering agent...nerve agent...and that stuff was back in the day - I don't even want to attempt to think about what's in development today.

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