Redstone Arsenal will neutralize its stockpile of World War II-era chemical agent identification sets May 17-18.

The Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Materiel Project, part of the Army Chemical Materials Agency, uses transportable treatment systems to safely treat and neutralize chemical warfare materiel. Established in 1992, the project maintains transportable assessment and treatment technologies with proven track records of efficiency and success.

One successful treatment system, the Single CAIS Access and Neutralization System, treats and neutralizes small quantities of chemical agent identification set items. This method of destroying sets began in December 2003. Redstone Arsenal has enlisted the support of the Chemical Management Agency to destroy the sets and will conduct operations May 17-18. The schedule was determined by the project's availability.

The Single CAIS Access and Neutralization System will treat and neutralize any agent contained in the bottles and will safely transport the neutralized containers to Greenbrier, Tenn., for final incineration. All such operations in the past have been 100 percent successful. These include operations at Fort McClellan in 2003; Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., in 2004; Fort Benning, Ga., in 2006, and Fort Bragg, N.C., in 2007.

Redstone Arsenal was established in 1941 by the Army as a chemical munitions manufacturing and storage plant. The Army used chemical agent identification sets from 1928-69 to train Soldiers in the safe handling, identification and decontamination of chemical warfare agents. The sets consist of chemical agents placed in glass ampoules, vials and bottles then packed in metal shipping containers or wooden boxes. In some cases, after use in the training, the Army buried the sets. This was the approved and acceptable way of disposing of the chemicals in the past.

Many sets have been discovered periodically in storage and at burial sites. In the early 1980s, the Army destroyed approximately 21,000 sets, the entire quantity left in storage. Periodically, a recovery of additional sets occurs.

In 1994 and 1995, Redstone Arsenal discovered from 26-32 set K941 bottles left over from World War II demilitarization efforts. They were found during investigation of hazardous waste sites RSA-052 and RSA-110. Some of the bottles may contain neat "liquid mustard" chemical agent, which were not chemical weapons. These were used solely for training purposes. The sets were used by Soldiers for chemical detection and decontamination. X-rays show some bottles have "liquid fill lines" while the majority appear to be empty.

The bottles have been safely stored in an interim holding facility since then. Redstone Arsenal stored the sets in sealed containers inside. The interim holding facility is an earth covered explosive storage magazine (B-8632) with sealed entrance door and located inside a fenced-in, secure, explosive storage site. Only designated personnel are allowed controlled access into this area.

Redstone Arsenal is working closely with its neighbors, local, state and federal authorities to facilitate open and timely dialogue and address any safety or environmental concerns during the conduct of the disposal operations. For more information, call 876-4161 or visit the Redstone Public Affairs website at www.pao.redstone.army.mil.

Page last updated Fri May 15th, 2009 at 11:30