Dangerous levels of the potentially lethal nerve agent used to target the Russian double agent and his daughter may still be present in ‘hot spots’ around Salisbury, Government scientists have warned.
Toxic trace amounts of the Novichok poison is believed to have been administered in liquid form to target Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33.
Work is underway to decontaminate nine sites across the city where experts believe the substance could still be present, in a multi-million pound operation that could take months.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), local council officials, police and health representatives updated locals on the progress being made on Thursday evening.
Toxic trace amounts of the Novichok poison is believed to have been administered in liquid form to target Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33
Defra today announced that there are nine sites which remain cordoned off following the nerve agent attack
When quizzed as to whether the chemical remains at the same ‘lethal’ dosage as the day it was put on Mr Skripal’s door, Defra chief scientist Ian Boyd said: ‘ We have to make an assumption that in certain circumstances there will be relatively high concentrations, probably in very, very specific locations, which could be at levels that could be toxic to individuals.’
‘That’s an assumption, it’s also one we’ve tested in some circumstances and we do know that there are hot spots like that around, so we have to make those assumptions that some of the hot spots we’ve still got to find.
‘But those hot spots will still be in the locations we are talking about.
‘In these locations, there may well be higher concentrations that we still have to find, but we already know there are some high concentrations within those locations.’
The meeting was held as work began to replace the police cordon around the Maltings area in the city centre, the nearby Zizzi restaurant and the Mill pub with more robust hoardings.
Members of the emergency services in green biohazard at the scene in Salisbury
It is believed liquid form of the poison was left on the door of the Skripal’s flat. Pictured: Door of the flat that Yulia Skripal and Stepan Vikeev rented before Yulia traveled to UK
Army officers remove the bench, where Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found in Salisbury
Locals were told the Bourne Hill building, housing Salisbury’s police station as well as Wiltshire council’s offices will close for up to eight weeks from Friday.
Decontamination work will focus on the evidence room and two lockers inside the police station, which were sealed off following the attack on March 4.
The decontamination work will focus on the evidence room and two lockers inside the station, which were sealed off after the March 4 attack.
Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills from Wiltshire Police said it would be ‘business as usual’ as operations move to other sites in and around the city.
Other areas earmarked for chemical cleaning include two ambulance stations, a car compound and the home of poisoned police officer Nick Bailey.
Mr Skripal’s home, which is still part of the police investigation, will be the last to be decontaminated.
The pair had been in the Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury (pictured) which was closed off to the public after the incident