The United States Army Chemical Materials Agency (CMA) completed neutralization Aug. 11 of the chemical weapons stockpile of nerve agent VX at the Newport Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (NECDF), located at Newport Chemical Depot, Ind. This achievement brings the United States one step closer to safely destroying the national stockpile of chemical weapons.

"This is a great day for the U.S. Army, the people of Indiana, and our Nation," said CMA Director Conrad Whyne. "Thanks to the steadfast dedication of the Newport team -- the United States Army, its civilian workers and contractors, and the Tennessee Valley Authority -- this community, this state, and our great country is a safer place today. I could not be more proud of our work force."

NECDF began chemical agent destruction operations on May 5, 2005, with a stockpile of 1,269 tons of VX -- four percent of the original United States total chemical weapons stockpile. Workers destroyed the agent using a neutralization technology that mixes it with sodium hydroxide and hot water. The resulting byproduct of this process is a caustic wastewater made up of water, sodium hydroxide, and organic salts.

International treaty obligations require that the United States destroy the caustic wastewater in order to receive credit for destruction. On April 5, 2007, the United States Army signed a contract to treat the caustic wastewater at Veolia Environmental Services' permitted incineration facility in Port Arthur, Texas. NECDF has generated approximately 1.65 million gallons -- 7,625 tons or 425 truckloads -- of caustic wastewater, which continues to be transported to and treated safely by Veolia Environmental Services.

The Army followed recommendations made by the National Research Council to partner with an existing and permitted commercial treatment facility to destroy the caustic wastewater.

"The vast experience of CMA employees and contractors, both at the site and at headquarters was used to build, operate, and oversee the work at Newport Chemical Depot to safely accomplish today's destruction milestone. This same cooperation is being demonstrated for the successful operation of CMA disposal facilities across the Nation," said Dean G. Popps, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology.

The United States established the Chemical Demilitarization Program in 1986 to remove the threat posed by continued storage of outdated chemical weapons, meet international treaty requirements, and inspire a worldwide commitment to the elimination of an entire class of weapons of mass destruction. In April 1997, the United States came under the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention, thereby requiring the safe destruction of 100 percent of the Nation's chemical weapons by April 2007. The United States petitioned to have the original deadline extended to April 2012 (an extension allowed by the treaty) and was granted this five-year extension.

CMA has completed disposal operations and closed facilities in Edgewood, Maryland, and Johnston Island, located in the South Pacific. CMA continues to safely store and destroy chemical weapons stockpiles in Anniston, Alabama; Pine Bluff, Arkansas; Tooele, Utah; and Umatilla, Oregon. CMA also oversees the safe storage of chemical weapons stockpiles in Richmond, Kentucky, and Pueblo, Colorado. The disposal of these munitions falls under the purview of the Program Manager Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, a Department of Defense program.

CMA's focus will continue to be the completion of its mission while ensuring maximum protection of the public, employees, and the environment.

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Page last updated Mon August 11th, 2008 at 10:30