Local News

Mustard Gas May Have Been Buried At Scotland County Airport

Posted August 15, 2003

— The Laurinburg-Maxton Airport is now home to rusting aircrafts being held for parts, but there is a concern that deadly mustard gas may have been buried in the area in 1945.

"The chemical of concern at this site is mustard or HD. It's a brown, oily liquid. It's not really a gas although it does vaporize," site safety official Chris Rose said.

The airport was the Army's No. 1 glider training base during World War II. About 10 years ago, the Army talked with a man who once worked at the base. He told them 8 to 10 barrels marked "Mustard Gas" were left at the base.

"He supposedly was the one who loaded them on a truck, backed up to a hole in the sand and dumped it on the end of our main runway," said Larry Barnett, of the Airport Commission.

Now, the Army wants to find it. If it is there, the mustard gas could still be dangerous even after nearly 60 years in the ground.

"We almost wish they would find a barrel and then we could find closure on it," Barnett said.

The Army Corps of Engineers practiced for three weeks on safety procedures. They plan to start digging on Monday. The site is one of more than 9,000 formerly used defense sites in the nation which may have some form of contamination. Officials say there are 182 such sites in North Carolina.

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