UK

Military Teams To Remove Roof From Sergei Skripal's Salisbury Home

Specialist contractors have started working on the former Russian spy's home.

Work by contractors has started at Mr Skripal's Salisbury home.

Specialist military teams are to remove the roof from the Salisbury home of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.

Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia were contaminated with the nerve agent Novichok at the property in March 2018.

Detectives believe the pair first came into contact with the substance on the door handle of the house.

Sixty-six-year-old Mr Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter both survived the incident.

Wiltshire Police Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey is also thought to have come into contact with the poison when he searched their home.

Skripal cleanup 2018
British personnel began decontamination work at Mr Skripal's home in September 2018.

Dawn Sturgess, 44, fell ill in Amesbury months after the incident and died in hospital in July after coming into contact with a perfume bottle believed to have been used in the attack on the Skripals and then discarded.

Her partner, Charlie Rowley, 45, was also exposed to the same nerve agent but was treated and discharged.

In this latest phase of operation, the roofs on two buildings will be taken off during a two-week period with other areas also being removed.

A letter seen by the Press Association and signed by the council's director of public of health, Tracy Daszkiewicz, told residents that contractors would spend the first month erecting scaffolding to cover the house and garage with a "sealed frame". She added:

"All materials will be wrapped and sealed on site before being removed safely from the premises."

She said the risk to public health remains "low".

Wiltshire Council has written to the Skripal's neighbours to say the deep clean and construction work is expected to take up to four months in total.

The decontamination project is being led by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) but military teams will carry out the work, a Ministry of Defence spokesman said.

This will be the same team involved in the clean-up so far, from the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear unit, he added.

Defra said focusing on removing the roofs was just part of their "highly precautionary", extensive and meticulous work on the property.

A spokesman said no further detail could be provided on the plan for disposal, other than that it would be carried out "safely" and would continue over the "coming months".

In a statement he added:

"In line with our thorough approach to decontamination, specialist teams are working inside and outside the property.

"External scaffolding is being erected in early January to allow access for work on the house roof and garage roof. The roof will be removed during the decontamination process.

"We are working with the site owner, Wiltshire Council and other partners to ensure that the house will be fully repaired and returned to a fit state to live in."

Army in Salisbury
The military was first deployed to help with the Salisbury clean-up last April.

The military was first deployed last April in response to the incident with around 190 personnel making Salisbury safe to the public, completing work near the Maltings area of the city the following month.

The clean-up has been taking place ever since the attack ten months ago, but work paused over Christmas.

In September 2018, UK forces were deployed to decontaminate Mr Skripal's home, by which point the military's commitment was around 120 personnel.

In the same month, two Russian nationals were named by police as suspects over the Salisbury nerve agent attack.

The two suspects, known by their aliases Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, were pictured on CCTV in Salisbury the day before the attack.