Arsenal Destroys Final Sarin Stock




 
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Arsenal Destroys Final Sarin Stock
 
May 23rd, 2007  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: Arsenal Destroys Final Sarin Stock


Arsenal Destroys Final Sarin Stock
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock)
May 22, 2007 PB facility finishes 2 years of work
By Mike Linn, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Chemical teams at the Pine Bluff Arsenal have successfully destroyed the last of the most dangerous nerve-agent stockpile on-site, the arsenal's disposal facility announced Monday.
The Pine Bluff Chemical Activity and Pine Bluff Chemical Agent Disposal Facility issued a news release saying the inventory of GB weapons, known as sarin, had been properly disposed of after more than two years of incineration.
The inventory included 90,409 GB rockets and two, 1-ton containers of the liquid nerve agent, which accounted for more than 12 percent of the chemical weapons stored at the arsenal, near White Hall in Jefferson County.
The last GB-filled chemical weapon was disposed of Saturday, according to the news release from the disposal team. Elimination of the 960,000-pound GB stockpile was the first priority. Of the chemical agents stored at the arsenal, sarin posed the biggest threat to public safety because the liquid can evaporate into the atmosphere if spilled, Raini Wright, a spokesman for the disposal facility, said in a telephone interview.
Nerve agents are highly poisonous chemicals that prevent the nervous system from working properly, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"This is a great day in the history of this project," Lt. Col. Casey Scott, commander of the Pine Bluff Chemical Activity, said in the release. "Our community, our world is a much safer place now that this significant storage risk is gone with the elimination of these weapons." Wright said the campaign to dispose of the sarin rocket stockpile - stored at the arsenal for more than 40 years - began March 29, 2005, with disposal of the first GB rocket.
In 1985, Congress passed a law requiring the U.S. Department of Defense to dispose of its chemical weapons, stockpiled during the Cold War but never used. Eight other sites in the United States handle the disposing of chemical weapons, Wright said.
In April 1997, the United States ratified the International Chemical Weapons Treaty, agreeing to destroy all of its chemical weapons by 2012, said Greg Mayhall, a spokesman for the U.S. Army at the Chemical Materials Agency in Aberdeen, Md.
Mayhall said chemical weapons-disposal sites in Richmond, Ky., and Umatilla, Ore., also were destroying GB nerve agents. He noted that some sites previously disposed of their GB stockpile, including Johnston Island, 717 miles west-southwest of Honolulu; Anniston, Ala.; and Tooele, Utah.
The Pine Bluff Arsenal stored about 12 percent of the Army's original stockpile of chemical weapons, Wright said.
Up next for the Pine Bluff Chemical Activity and Pine Bluff Chemical Agent Disposal Facility is the destruction, beginning this fall, of the arsenal's supply of VX-filled rockets, followed by disposal of VX-filled land mines.
VX is also a liquid nerve agent, but heavier than GB and less likely to evaporate, Wright said. The final mission will be disposal of stockpiled blister agents, the news release said.
"We will progress through our next disposal campaigns with the same commitment to safety as was demonstrated throughout the disposal of the GB nerve agent munitions," Mark Greer, site project manager for the disposal facility, said in the news release. "I am extremely proud of and grateful for all the people who have diligently worked to make this achievement possible."
On May 9, employees at the facility had attained 9 million work hours without an injury that resulted in a day away from work, the news release said. The employees work for Washington Group International, the systems contractor hired by the U.S. Army to operate the facility.
The Pine Bluff Arsenal opened in 1941 to manufacture mustard blistering agents and lewisite, another blistering agent, and to assemble munitions. Production of chemical weapons ended in 1969. Since the 1970s, the arsenal has produced nonlethal chemical agents, tested chemical defense equipment and manufactured munitions using such chemicals as white phosphorus.
 


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