Scientist warns of toxic levels of Novichok in Salisbury ‘hotspots’ despite earlier reassurances

Scientist warns of toxic levels of Novichok in Salisbury ‘hotspots’ despite earlier reassurances
Toxic levels of the nerve agent reportedly used against the Skripals may still be present in multiple “hotspots” across Salisbury, a government scientist says.

According to experts, the residue of the A-234 agent, now widely known as ‘Novichok,’ which the UK claims poisoned former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, could be as potent as during the alleged attack six weeks ago.

The Skripals are thought to have been targeted with a small amount of the deadly substance in liquid form, while “high concentrations” were found on Sergei’s front-door.

The revelations came during a public meeting in the city, where members of the public complained about the length of the clearing process.

Ian Boyd, the chief scientific adviser at the government’s environment agency, told one critic: “You are underplaying the toxicity of this chemical. You’re also underplaying how the chemical has been spread.”

He compared the spread of the chemical to ink. “You dip your finger in ink and if that ink doesn’t dry and you go through your normal daily activities, you will find that ink in a lot of different places.”

Boyd also warned “the chemical does not degrade quickly. You can assume that it is not much different now from the day it was distributed.”

He added that the hotspots are already known and are being monitored, and they include the park where the Skripals fell ill and the Mill pub and Zizzi restaurant where they drank and ate before being struck by the chemical.

The warning comes despite a police warning at the end of last month that a decontamination process was taking place as a precaution, but that there was no danger to the public.

No further cases of illness have been reported since early March, according to Tracy Daszkiewicz, Wiltshire council’s director of public health.

Investigative work has to take place at the Skripals’ house on the outskirts of the city before a clean-up can be carried out there, too.

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