Via Fox News:
DEVELOPING STORY: Vials of dangerous chemicals believed originating from Iraq were discovered Thursday in the world headquarters of the United Nations in the heart of New York City.
No evacuations were ordered, and there was no immediate danger to the public, according to a U.N. spokesman.
Hazardous materials personnel were reported at the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission offices at 48th Street and 1st Avenue in Manhattan.
The U.N. spokesman issued the following statement:
On Friday 24th August 2007 in archiving UNSCOM files, UNMOVI staff discovered two small plastic packages with metal and glass containers (ranging in size from small vials to tubes the length of a pen) with unknown liquid substances. The archives are located at the UNMOVIC headquarters.
Brian Ross has more:
United Nations weapons inspectors discovered six to eight vials of a dangerous nerve gas, phosgene, as they were cleaning out offices at a U.N. building in New York this morning, federal authorities tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com.
The federal authorities said the office, in a U.N. building near headquarters, was being evacuated and the White House had been notified at 10 a.m.
New York police and fire officials reported to the scene around 12:15 this afternoon.
A U.N. spokesperson said a statement would be issued shortly.
Authorities said the phosgene was believed to have been discovered in Iraq and manufactured prior to 1991.
Former U.N. weapons inspectors told ABCNews.com that vials of phosgene had also been used by inspectors in Iraq to help calibrate air sampling instruments.
The former inspectors said the remaining vials were supposed to have been destroyed.
“If it is properly sealed, it should not pose much of a threat unless it is dropped,” said former New York City emergency services director Jerry Hauer, an ABC News consultant.
“They need to get it out of there and put it in a safe canister,” Hauer said. “It shows immense stupidity to have that kind of thing sitting around as a souvenir.”
Little Green Footballs is reporting that it’s not actually nerve gas:
Phosgene is not a “nerve gas” as ABC’s Blotter reported; it’s technically classified as a “nettle agent” used in chemical warfare. More info at the CDC: Facts About Phosgene.
Hmm. If so, the USA Today’s “On Deadline” blog is misreporting that it’s nerve gas, too.
Hat tip: Jeff Goldstein, who is monitoring this developing story.