Mustard gas conjures up images of unimaginable horror. Link a converted Cornwall mustard gas plant to a milk sugar concentrate factory in Cornwall and an alarm goes off. Add the fact that the grounds Stormont Chemicals, on Wallrich Ave. were not declared free of mustard gas until 2007, by the Department of National Defense and you have a potential Cornwall Halloween horror story in the making.
The top secret Stormont Chemicals, capable of producing 100 tonnes of mustard gas a week operated in Cornwall from 1943 to 1945. Located on more than 300 acres, in Cornwall Township, the $3,000,000 compound (approximately $52,000,000 today) of nearly 50 buildings was protected by armed guards and employed 280 people.
As for secrecy, I am not so sure it was very effective as thousands drums of gas were stored in the surrounding fields and clearly visible to anyone who ventured into Cornwall’s west end. Similarly people have told me they played amongst the “guarded” gas drums as children.
In 1946, 10,000 drums containing 2,800 tonnes of gas were shipped by train to the Maritimes to be “buried at sea,” at a depth of 600 fathoms 64 kms south of Sable Island.
Peebles Products acquired the facility in 1947 to produce milk sugar concentrate for the production of penicillin and dry why products until the plant closed in the 1980s. It then became a branch of Sensient Products which in turn left Cornwall in 2014.
The Good News
As for the toxicity of the mustard gas?
It is said that none of the gas drums burst, and that the grounds have been safe for years as the gas residue is said to decompose in several years, but in some rare cases take seven to become inert, meaning that the site is safe!
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