Army destroys 60 percent of U.S. chemical weapons
May 16, 2009
- Destruction of chemical weapons maintaining highest levels of safety and environmental compliance
U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency officials announced April 28 the destruction of 60 percent of the U.S. declared stockpile under the Chemical Weapons Convention. This milestone was achieved April 25. CMA reached the 50 percent milestone in December 2007 and is poised to destroy its two-millionth munition in the coming months.
"We have increased our efficiency at destroying the nation's chemical weapons stockpile while maintaining the highest safety and environmental compliance standards," said Conrad Whyne, CMA director. "This accomplishment is the result of a true team effort between our storage and destruction staff consisting of both government and contractor personnel, and I commend the dedication of the members of our highly skilled work force."
"It took eight years to destroy the first ten percent of agent, including agent destroyed before the CWC entered into force. Back then, the Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System was our first operating facility, and we were still mastering operations," said Col. Robert Billington, CMA project manager for Chemical Stockpile Elimination. "Since then, we have systematically applied the lessons learned from JACADS and our other operating sites to continually improve our efficiency."
Another big success of CMA's chemical demilitarization program is safety.
"We have worked hard to instill a safety culture throughout the program," said Greg St. Pierre, CMA director of Risk Management. "Over time, our work force has reduced our Recordable Injury Rate or RIR-the rate of injuries per two-hundred-thousand man-hours worked which we report to OSHA-from more than 4.0 at JACADS to 0.62, our March 2009 rate. By contrast, the construction industry RIR is 6.3. Industries with a lower injury rate are finance, data processing and libraries."
In reaching the 60 percent destruction mark, CMA has also reduced the overall continued storage risk from the nation's stockpiled chemical weapons by 94 percent. Much of this reduction is due to CMA's complete destruction of VX and GB nerve agents at its chemical demilitarization sites, achieved in December 2008. The storage risk continues to decrease with every new destruction milestone CMA achieves.
Destruction of chemical weapons is complete at Newport, Ind.; Aberdeen, Md.; and Johnston Island. Operations continue at CMA's remaining destruction sites in Tooele, Utah; Umatilla, Ore.; Anniston, Ala.; and Pine Bluff, Ark. These sites are now destroying or preparing to destroy blister agent. CMA continues to safely store chemical agent munitions near Richmond, Ky., and at Pueblo, Colo.
For more information about CMA, visit http://www.cma.army.mil.