The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 18, 2009

Crystal dig to open Saturday

The Salt Plains Wildlife Refuge Selenite Crystal Dig Area will re-open at 8 a.m. Saturday.

The dig area has been closed since April 2007 when vials from Chemical Agent Identification Sets were found in the area by a Boy Scout. The vials were used to train troops during World War II to recognize chemical agents. The vials contained diluted mustard, lewisite, chloropicrin and undiluted phosgene.

Army Corps of Engineers conducted a remedial investigation of the dig area. A total of 171 intact vials were found and removed as well as incendiary bomblets and other metal debris.

The final report from the Corps of Engineers recommended the use of educational materials to warn the public of potential hazards. The report stated “it is unlikely that munitions and explosives of concern or Chemical Agent Identification Sets remain at the project site. It cannot be stated with certainty, however, that no MEC or CAIS remain.”

The education materials will include two signs at the dig area, insert in the selenite crystal brochure and information on the Salt Plains Web site. This information will depict munitions and chemical vials which have been found in the dig area and actions to take by visitors if anymore are found.

The area will not re-open until Saturday to allow the refuge to produce and display the education material.