Newport Chemical Depot confirms VX stockpile neutralized

By Gregory MahallAugust 11, 2008

Newport Chemical Depot confirms VX stockpile neutralized
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Newport Chemical Depot confirms VX stockpile neutralized
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Newport Chemical Depot confirms VX stockpile neutralized
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Newport Chemical Depot confirms VX stockpile neutralized
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NEWPORT CHEMICAL DEPOT, Ind. - On Aug. 8, 2008, personnel at the Newport Chemical Agent Disposal Facility confirmed the last ton container of VX had been successfully neutralized, marking the completion of stockpile elimination at Newport Chemical Depot.

The achievement marks the latest in Chemical Materials Agency successes in destroying the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile. CMA has destroyed more than 55 percent of the total chemical agent in the U.S. stockpile.

NECD is the third site to complete operations, following Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System in 2000 and the Aberdeen Chemical Agent Disposal Facility at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in 2006.

"This day marks a tremendous milestone for the workers at Newport, the citizens of Indiana and the rest of the world," said CMA Director Conrad Whyne. "Newport's stockpile has been safely eliminated, which brings the United States one step closer to fulfilling the commitment of destroying our nation's chemical weapons."

For nearly 40 years, workers at the depot safely stored 1,269 tons of liquid chemical agent VX in 1,690 steel containers.

"Teamwork and dedication are at the core of each person on site," NECD Commander Lt. Col. William Hibner said. "I am proud and honored to be a part of a work force whose mission to eliminate the Newport stockpile was completed safely and successfully."

"We have always emphasized our focus and commitment to safety," said Site Project Manager Jeff Brubaker. "Employees at Newport operated with care and concern for themselves, local communities and the environment, which has led us to our milestone today."

The U.S. Army used a neutralization process to destroy the VX stockpile at Newport.

This process involved mixing the VX with heated sodium hydroxide and water in a reactor. The resulting neutralization product, known as caustic wastewater, is shipped to Veolia Environmental Services in Port Arthur, Texas, for final disposal.

The Army receives Chemical Weapons Convention treaty credit for chemical destruction when the caustic wastewater is transferred from shipping containers at Veolia. The last of the caustic wastewater will be transported to Veolia and destroyed within the next few weeks, and the U.S. Army will apply to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons at The Hague, Netherlands, for a final treaty inspection to verify complete elimination of the Newport stockpile.

Neutralization operations at Newport began May 5, 2005. It took three years and three months to drain and neutralize the VX agent. The site will now enter a closure phase to dismantle buildings and equipment, and dispose of various wastes related to the destruction project. These operations are expected to take 18-24 months.

The public is invited to attend a ceremony to commemorate the completion of the stockpile elimination on Oct. 25 at 10 a.m. Distinguished guests will speak in the auditorium of the South Vermillion High School in Clinton, Ind. A short reception in the school cafeteria will follow.

CMA successes at the agency's other stockpile sites include the Pine Bluff, Ark., facility, which completed VX nerve agent disposal operations in June and has begun preparations to destroy its blister agent (mustard) chemical agent munitions. CMA's Umatilla, Ore., and Anniston, Ala., chemical agent disposal facilities are destroying VX nerve agent munitions. Their final agent campaigns also will be blister agent. The Tooele, Utah, facility is continuing to destroy its chemical stockpile.

Related Links:

Newport Chemical Stockpile Elimination Ceremony Invitation

Related video: Last ton container move

Newport Chemical Depot Stockpile Elimination Web site