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Subject: Hazardous materials

Hazardous materials

From: George Bailey <george.bailey>
Date: Monday, September 9, 1996
Kory Berrett wrote:

>...I'd be interested to know what advice is out there
>regarding the disposition of live small arms ammunition and
>potentially dangerous 18th or 19th century pharmaceuticals like
>strychnine.

At the Australian War Memorial we often come across live small arms
ammunition, which we usually disarm ourselves. As long as there is
no major corrosion around the base, near the primer, they can be
safely disarmed. You should be able to purchase a "Kinteic Bullet
Puller" from you local firearms dealer. They are simple and safe to
use for centre fire ammunition up to about .45" calibre. Once you
have the propellant out you sould soak the casing in acetone which
will remove the active ingredient (usually picric acid) in the
primer. For ammunition that has badly corroded you're best referring
it to the military for attention.

We also come across old pharmaceuticals which have some nasty
substances in them. Depending on what they are & what type and
condition their original containers are will determine what we do
with it. Sometimes we keep it with appropriate warning labels etc.
More often we dispose of it ourselves if we are confident that we
can treat it safely and properly, or we will refer it to a
pharmacist who can dispose of it properly.

At all times the safety of staff and visitors is paramount. No
collection item is worth more than a human life. Dangerous
pharmaceuticals can be easily be replace with safer materials that
look the same, and properly disarmed bullets look the same as live
ones.

George Bailey
Objects Conservator
Australian War Memorial
Treloar Centre for Conservation
4 Callan St, Mitchell, A.C.T. 2911
Australia
+61 6 241 6122
Fax: +61 6 241 7998

                                  ***
                  Conservation DistList Instance 10:26
                Distributed: Tuesday, September 10, 1996
                       Message Id: cdl-10-26-003
                                  ***
Received on Monday, 9 September, 1996

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