Salisbury novichok attack: Ambulance station may never re-open

An ambulance station shut down by the military after the nerve agent attack on Russian double agent Sergei Skripal may never re-open.

Specialist military personnel descended on the site after doctors revealed Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia had been poisoned with novichok, which Prime Minister Theresa May said had ‘almost certainly’ been approved by the Russian state.  

Amesbury Ambulance Station, in Wiltshire, was shut down as experts in hazmat suits entered the building to decontaminate it and removed emergency vehicles from the site on the back of low-loader lorries.

Now, South Western Ambulance Service (SWAS) has revealed that the emergency work, which was completed in June last year, left it requiring such extensive refurbishment it may never re-open.

The fire service at a base used by South Western Ambulance Service at Solstice Park, Amesbury, Wiltshire, in March 2018 at the time of the incident

The fire service at a base used by South Western Ambulance Service at Solstice Park, Amesbury, Wiltshire, in March 2018 at the time of the incident

The fire service at a base used by South Western Ambulance Service at Solstice Park, Amesbury, Wiltshire, in March 2018 at the time of the incident

Former Russian spy Mr Srkipal, 66, right, and his daughter Yulia, 33, left, were poisoned by the substance last year, but both managed to survive

Former Russian spy Mr Srkipal, 66, right, and his daughter Yulia, 33, left, were poisoned by the substance last year, but both managed to survive

Former Russian spy Mr Srkipal, 66, right, and his daughter Yulia, 33, left, were poisoned by the substance last year, but both managed to survive

Russian nationals ,Dr Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin, left, and Anatoliy Chepiga, right, are suspected of carrying out the attack after being caught on CCTV in Salisbury ahead of the incident, although they claim they were there to visit the famous cathedral

Russian nationals ,Dr Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin, left, and Anatoliy Chepiga, right, are suspected of carrying out the attack after being caught on CCTV in Salisbury ahead of the incident, although they claim they were there to visit the famous cathedral

Russian nationals ,Dr Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin, left, and Anatoliy Chepiga, right, are suspected of carrying out the attack after being caught on CCTV in Salisbury ahead of the incident, although they claim they were there to visit the famous cathedral

Specialist military personnel descended on the site after doctors revealed Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia had been poisoned with Novichok, leaving them in a catatonic state. Amesbury Ambulance Station, Wilts, was shut down as experts in hazmat suits entered the building to decontaminate it

Specialist military personnel descended on the site after doctors revealed Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia had been poisoned with Novichok, leaving them in a catatonic state. Amesbury Ambulance Station, Wilts, was shut down as experts in hazmat suits entered the building to decontaminate it

Specialist military personnel descended on the site after doctors revealed Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia had been poisoned with Novichok, leaving them in a catatonic state. Amesbury Ambulance Station, Wilts, was shut down as experts in hazmat suits entered the building to decontaminate it

Former Russian intelligence officer Mr Skripal, 67, and his daughter Yulia, 34, were found slumped in a shopping precinct in Salisbury, Wiltshire, on March 4, last year.

The pair had been poisoned with Novichok, believed to have been placed by at their home and had been to a pub and Zizzi restaurant before falling seriously ill.

After attending the scene, two ambulances returned to the Amesbury base, which was initially closed after the attack in March, which was shut down to protect others from being poisoned by the lethal nerve agent.

However, after clean-up work was completed in June last year, the ambulance station has not re-opened – with the work leaving the building needing ‘significant refurbishment’.

A spokesman for SWAS said: ‘South Western Ambulance Service is currently reviewing its entire estate.

‘This includes the condition and refurbishment requirements of each ambulance station.

‘As with Salisbury ambulance station, once the decontamination process was completed, Amesbury ambulance station was still in need of significant refurbishment.

‘This refurbishment work must be completed before Amesbury ambulance station can reopen.

‘The refurbishment work at Amesbury station will be included in this review..’

Salisbury ambulance station reopened in August last year. 

Mr Skripal and his daughter have both now been released from hospital following the attack, an are believed to still be living in the UK as they continue to recover.

CCTV image from March 4th issued by the Metropolitan Police of Russian Nationals, known by their aliases as Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov on Fisherton Road, Salisbury at around 1pm 

CCTV image from March 4th issued by the Metropolitan Police of Russian Nationals, known by their aliases as Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov on Fisherton Road, Salisbury at around 1pm 

CCTV image from March 4th issued by the Metropolitan Police of Russian Nationals, known by their aliases as Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov on Fisherton Road, Salisbury at around 1pm 

Officials believe Novichok was sprayed on the doorhandle at Sergei Skripal's property and work has been going on for months in the Salisbury road to make sure all traces of the poison is removed 

Officials believe Novichok was sprayed on the doorhandle at Sergei Skripal's property and work has been going on for months in the Salisbury road to make sure all traces of the poison is removed 

Officials believe Novichok was sprayed on the doorhandle at Sergei Skripal’s property and work has been going on for months in the Salisbury road to make sure all traces of the poison is removed 

The roofs of both the house and garage, pictured left and right, will be sealed off and then dismantled, with materials then safely removed from the scene for testing

The roofs of both the house and garage, pictured left and right, will be sealed off and then dismantled, with materials then safely removed from the scene for testing

The sealing off of the roofs will take around a month, followed by two weeks of removing the tiles

The sealing off of the roofs will take around a month, followed by two weeks of removing the tiles

The roofs of both the house and garage, pictured left and right, will be sealed off and then dismantled, with materials then safely removed from the scene for testing

In the summer, the cathedral city suffered a second Novichok poisoning which killed mother-of-three Dawn Sturgess, 44, and left her partner Charlie Rowley, 45, with serious injuries.

A counterfeit Nina Ricci perfume bottle – which Ms Sturgess handled – is thought to have contained the substance.

While most of the clean-up work in the city has been completed, Mr Skripal’s house, where the nerve agent is believed to have been planted, remains boarded up.

Wiltshire Council has now warned neighbours it plans to dismantle the property, with both the house and garage roof set to be removed.

Evidence gathered by intelligence agencies led the Government to conclude that the men were officers from the Russian military intelligence service, the GRU.

Russian secret service agents Anatoliy Chepiga and Dr Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin are believed to have placed the Novichok at Mr Skripal’s house.

However, the pair claimed on Russian TV last year they were simply visiting Salisbury to see the cathedral.

A timeline of the key developments in the Salisbury poisoning case

2010 – Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence officer jailed for spying for Britain, is released and flown to the UK as part of a swap with Russian agents caught in the United States. He settles in Salisbury.

March 3, 2018 – Yulia Skripal arrives at Heathrow Airport from Russia to visit her father in England.

March 4, 9.15am – Sergei Skripal’s burgundy BMW is seen in suburban Salisbury, near a cemetery, where his wife and son are commemorated.

March 4, 1.30pm – The BMW is seen driving toward central Salisbury.

March 4, 1.40pm – The BMW is parked at a lot in central Salisbury.

A police officer stands guard outside the Zizzi restaurant where Sergei and Yulia had lunch before they collapsed in a nearby park

A police officer stands guard outside the Zizzi restaurant where Sergei and Yulia had lunch before they collapsed in a nearby park

A police officer stands guard outside the Zizzi restaurant where Sergei and Yulia had lunch before they collapsed in a nearby park

March 4, afternoon – Sergei and Yulia Skripal visit the Bishops Mill pub.

March 4, 2.20pm to 3.35pm – Sergei and Yulia Skripal have lunch at the Zizzi restaurant.

March 4, 4.15pm – Emergency services are called by a passer-by concerned about a man and a woman in Salisbury city centre.

Officers find the Skripals unconscious on a bench. They are taken to Salisbury District Hospital, where they remain in critical condition.

March 5, morning – Police say two people in Salisbury are being treated for suspected exposure to an unknown substance. 

Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey was among the first police officers on the scene and was himself hospitalised

Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey was among the first police officers on the scene and was himself hospitalised

Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey was among the first police officers on the scene and was himself hospitalised

March 5, afternoon – Wiltshire Police, along with Public Health England, declare a ‘major incident’

March 7 – Police announce that the Skripals were likely poisoned with a nerve agent in a targeted murder attempt.

They disclose that a police officer who responded to the incident is in serious condition in a hospital.

March 8 – Home Secretary Amber Rudd describes the use of a nerve agent on UK soil was a ‘brazen and reckless act’ of attempted murder

March 9 – About 180 troops trained in chemical warfare and decontamination are deployed to Salisbury to help with the police investigation.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Moscow might be willing to assist with the investigation but expresses resentment at suggestions the Kremlin was behind the attack. 

March 11 – Public health officials tell people who visited the Zizzi restaurant or Bishops Mill pub in Salisbury on the day of the attack or the next day to wash their clothes as a precaution.

March 12, morning– Prime Minister Theresa May tells the House of Commons that the Skripals were poisoned with Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. 

March 12, afternoon – Public Health England ask everyone who visited Salisbury town centre on the day of the attack to wash all of their clothes and belongings. 

Officers wearing chemical protection suits secure the forensic tent over the bench where Sergei and Yulia fell ill

Officers wearing chemical protection suits secure the forensic tent over the bench where Sergei and Yulia fell ill

Officers wearing chemical protection suits secure the forensic tent over the bench where Sergei and Yulia fell ill

March 14 – The PM announces the expulsion of 23 suspected Russian spies from the country’s UK Embassy.  

March 22 – Nick Bailey, the police officer injured in the attack, is released from hospital.  

March 26 – The United States and 22 other countries join Britain in expelling scores of Russian spies from capitals across the globe. 

March 29 – Doctors say Yulia Skripal is ‘improving rapidly’ in hospital. 

Unknown time in the spring’  – Dutch authorities expelled two suspected Russian spies who tried to hack into a Swiss laboratory

April 3 – The chief of the Porton Down defence laboratory said it could not verify the ‘precise source’ of the nerve agent.  

April 5, morning – Yulia Skripal’s cousin Viktoria says she has received a call from Yulia saying she plans to leave hospital soon.

Dawn Sturgess died in hospital on July 8

Dawn Sturgess died in hospital on July 8

Dawn Sturgess died in hospital on July 8

April 5, afternoon – A statement on behalf of Yulia is released by Metropolitan Police, in which she says her strength is ‘growing daily’ and that ‘daddy is fine’.

April 9 – Ms Skripal is released from hospital and moved to a secure location.

May 18 – Sergei Skripal is released from hospital 11 weeks after he was poisoned.

June 30 – Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley fall ill at a property in Amesbury, which is eight miles from Salisbury, and are rushed to hospital.

July 4 – Police declare a major incident after Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley are exposed to an ‘unknown substance’, later revealed to be Novichok. 

July 5 – Sajid Javid demands an explanation over the two poisonings as he accuses the Russian state of using Britain as a ‘dumping ground for poison’. 

July 8 – Mother-of-three Dawn Sturgess, 44, dies in hospital due to coming into contact with Novichok.

July 10 – Mr Rowley regains consciousness at hospital, and later tells his brother that Dawn had sprayed the Novichok onto her wrists.

July 19 – Police are believed to have identified the perpetrators of the attack.

August 20 –  Charlie Rowley is rushed to hospital as he starts to lose his sight, but doctors can’t confirm whether it has anything to do with the poisoning.

August 26 – Charlie Rowley admitted to intensive care unit with meningitis 

August 28  – Police call in the ‘super recognisers’  in bid to track down the poisoners

September 4 –  Charlie Rowley’s brother says he has ‘lost all hope’ and doesn’t have long to live.

Independent investigators, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, confirm the toxic chemical that killed Ms Sturgess was the same nerve agent as that which poisoned the Skripals. 

September 5 – Scotland Yard and CPS announce enough evidence to charge Russian nationals Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov for conspiracy to murder over Salisbury nerve agent attack. 

September 13 – Britain’s most wanted men speak to RT and claim to be humble tourists 

September 26 – The real identity of one of the two assassins, named by police as Ruslan Boshirov, is reported to be Colonel Anatoliy Vladimirovich Chepiga.

October 3: New photo emerges that appears to show Col Chepiga on the Wall of Heroes at the Far-Eastern Military Academy, providing more evidence against the Kremlin’s denials. 

 

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