Whyne made his remarks when announcing that the last VX nerve agent-filled M23 landmine in the Umatilla Chemical Depot (UMCD) stockpile in Oregon has been destroyed, marking the end of all VX-filled munitions stored at the site. The last landmine was destroyed at the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (UMCDF) on Nov. 5, 2008.
“This accomplishment demonstrates the hard work, skill and experience of the men and women that make up the Umatilla team,” said Conrad Whyne, director of the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency (CMA). “They have safely destroyed their nerve agent chemical weapons stockpile, reducing the storage risk to the public and bringing us yet another step closer to fulfilling our national imperative of eliminating the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile.”
With the elimination of the VX at UMCDF, CMA has safely destroyed nearly 95 percent of the original VX agent stockpile around the country. Only two of the six remaining storage sites have VX left to destroy.
Umatilla's efforts to dispose of all of its nerve agent munitions began in September 2004. Their last nerve agent munition campaign – M23 VX landmines - began Sept. 25, 2008. Approximately 122,000 pounds of VX nerve agent in 11,685 landmines were safely stored at UMCD and eliminated by UMCDF. With the end of this campaign, the risk to the surrounding community has been greatly reduced.
Whyne stressed that the milestone was reached because of the dedication of the Umatilla work force and their close working relationships with local communities, as well as oversight by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
“Working at our sites is safer than working in a library or at a university,” said Whyne. “Our goal is to maintain that safety record and culture through the end of agent destruction at all of our storage and disposal sites. Yesterday’s achievement at Umatilla is proof that we can reach our goal.”
Prior to starting chemical weapons disposal operations, UMCD had safely stored 3,717 tons of chemical agent – nearly 12 percent of the Army’s original chemical weapons stockpile – for more than 45 years.
UMCDF will now undergo a changeover period, which prepares the site and personnel to destroy mustard ton containers containing approximately 2,350 tons of mustard agent – the site’s final disposal campaign.
For more information on the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency please visit http://www.cma.army.mil.