Army starts clean-up operation in Salisbury two months after Skripal poisoning

Army trucks have rolled into Salisbury to begin decontamination work on ‘toxic hot spots’ where former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned.

Nearly two months after they were targeted, soldiers are focusing on nine locations believed to be affected by the novichok nerve agent used in the March 4 attack.

Two large metal containers and a military JCB vehicle were unloaded at the scene near the Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury town centre.

Both Sergei, 66, and Yulia, 33, were found slumped on a bench near a small grassy area following the nerve agent attack.

The operation will be overseen by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), reports Sky News .

Speaking at a public meeting last week, Defra’s chief scientific adviser Ian Boyd said it was likely "very specific locations" could be contaminated to toxic levels.

He 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."

More robust hoardings will replace police cordons around the Maltings area in the city centre, the meeting heard.

The nearby Zizzi restaurant and Mill pub cordons will also be replaced.

The Bourne Hill building, which houses Salisbury’s police station and Wiltshire Council’s offices, will close on Friday for up to eight weeks.

Decontamination work will focus on the evidence room and two lockers inside the station, which were sealed off after the attack.

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 will be the last area to be decontaminated – it is still under police investigation.

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.

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