Sergei Skripal poisoning: Huge clean-up for Salisbury amid fear site may still be contaminated
A huge clean-up operation is being launched in Salisbury at nine sites that may still be contaminated with the Novichok nerve agent used to poison Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
Police are handing over the cordoned-off sites to government officials after completing their investigations at the locations after the attempted assassination of former double agent Mr Skripal.
Officers and security guards will watch the sites 24 hours a day to stop intruders during the clean-up work, which could take months.
Ian Boyd, the Environment Departmentâs chief scientific adviser, who is chairman o f the decontamination group overseeing the work, said: âOur number one priority is making these sites safe for the public, so they can be returned to use for the people of Salisbury.â
Public Health England said that the risk to the public is low, with scientists assessing that the remainder of the Wiltshire city is safe for residents and visitors.
The nine sites are: The Maltings park area, Zizzi restaurant, the Mill pub, Mr Skripalâs house, the home of Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, who was also struck down by the nerve agent, two areas of Bourne Hill police station, Salisbury ambulance station, Amesbury ambulance station, and the Ashley Wood compound.
Contamination levels are understood to be low at most of the sites, some of which will be boarded off. Items will be removed for chemical cleaning.
Nearly 200 Army personnel, who are specialists in this work, will be part of the clean-up operation.
A small cordoned area of London Road cemetery, where Mr Skripalâs wife and son are buried, was the first area to be reopened to the public today after extensive testing established it was not contaminated.
Meanwhile, Britainâs cyber security chief put ministers, members of the royal family and other high-profile individuals on âhigh alertâ that Russian hackers may seek to steal and leak embarrassing information about them.
Ciaran Martin, chief executive of the National Cyber Security Centre, warned that Russian âactorsâ may be seeking to obtain âkompromatâ material â" information about individualsâ personal or professional lives that they would not want to be made public. The UK and the US have issued a formal alert about âmalicious cyber activityâ by Russia amid warnings that relations with Moscow have hit an all-time low.
Detailing the type of possible Russian aggressive action, Mr Martin told the BBC: âIn terms of things like kompromat, we should be on high alert for Russian actors stealing sensitive inf ormation, possibly doctoring it, possibly not, and then leaking it to embarrass high-profile individuals.â
He also warned of attacks on âhard infrastructureâ and attempts to âmeddle in the public discourse and free debateâ, including elections. Meanwhile Russian officials said inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons were due to be allowed to visit Douma near Damascus in Syria today after being prevented from doing so yesterday. Moscow denies that chemical weapons were used there.
The delay raised suspicious that the inspectors had been blocked access to allow more time for the regime to clean up evidence of the suspected chemical weapons attack on April 7 ,which rescuers said killed at least 70 people.Source: Google News