Military Decontamination Work Complete At Skripal Poisoning Site

One of the key sites at the centre of the Skripal poisoning case has been handed back from Government control.

Military personnel near the Maltings, where Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, were found on a bench (Image: April 2018)

Decontamination work at one of the key sites at the centre of the Skripal poisoning case has been completed. 

The Government department DEFRA announced it has handed control of the Maltings area to the Salisbury Recovery Co-ordinating Group.

Wiltshire Council will now decide when to reopen the site following the nerve agent attack on the former Russian spy.

A DEFRA spokesman said: "Following extensive clean-up operations in Salisbury to remove any potential residual contamination resulting from the nerve agent attack on 4 March, decontamination work is now complete at The Maltings.

"The site has now been handed back to Wiltshire Council, who will decide when it is appropriate to release it back into public use."

Chairman Alistair Cunningham said on Tuesday: "There's no risk to public health, it's a simple message. There's no doubt the site is clean.

"The site is in quite a state after not being touched for a few months.

"Our plan is to do as much as we can in the next few days ... because it's a vital economic link for the town centre."

There are no plans to replace the bench where the Skripals collapsed, but the council was looking at a possible art installation, Mr Cunningham said.

He added around £250,000 had been given to affected local businesses, which saw revenues drop by up to 80% in the immediate aftermath of the poisoning.

Mr Skripal, 66, and Ms Skripal, 33, were admitted to Salisbury District Hospital after coming into contact with the military-grade nerve agent Novichok.

Mr Skripal left the hospital on Friday morning following his daughter's discharge on April 10.

Mr Cunningham added: "Things are running to plan and this is a real milestone in Salisbury returning to normal.

"You walk around and life goes on, the city is bigger than the incident."

Personnel were deployed to Salisbury after the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia in March 2018.

Last week Prime Minister Theresa May and her Cabinet ministers were told that more than 400 police officers - including 250 counter-terrorism specialists - have been involved in the inquiry into the poisoning.

Ministers praised the "resilience" of Salisbury residents in the face of disruption, which they blamed on "Russia's reckless actions".

Moscow has repeatedly denied responsibility for the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. The pair were found slumped on a bench in The Maltings area.

Mrs May's official spokesman said police had released all sites for decontamination, except for the Skripal house. He added:

"Clean-up work is well under way and the priority is making the sites safe so they can be returned to use and Salisbury can get back to normal."