By Raini BrunsonDecember 11, 2008
PINE BLUFF ARSENAL, Ark. - Employees at the Pine Bluff Chemical Activity and the Pine Bluff Chemical Agent Disposal Facility successfully transported and processed the first mustard agent- filled ton container of the Arsenal's stockpile.
On Dec. 4, PBCA safely transported the first enhanced onsite container carrying mustard agent-filled ton containers to PBCDF and on Dec. 7, PBCDF processed the first ton container.
"With the start of the last chemical weapons disposal campaign we are one step closer to finishing the storage mission and making our community safer with the elimination of all our stockpile," said Lt. Col. Cliff Johnston, PBCA commander.
The ton containers are the last disposal campaign at the Arsenal. Unlike the previous disposal campaigns that dealt with nerve agent, mustard is a blister agent. Following the completion of disposal operations, PBCDF will begin its facility closure phase. During this time the disposal facility will be decontaminated and dismantled in accordance with the site's Resource Conservation and Recovery Act permit.
"Current estimates predict the duration of the ton container disposal campaign to be about three years," said Mark Greer, PBCDF site project manager. "We are confident that we will complete disposal operations by the Chemical Weapons Convention Treaty date of 2012."
Chemical weapons disposal operations began at the Arsenal in March 2005 with the GB nerve-agent filled rockets. The second disposal campaign, VX nerve-agent filled rockets, ended in February 2008; and the third disposal campaign, VX nerve-agent filled landmines, ended in June 2008.
"Our employees did an excellent job completing this outage, and will continue to move forward with operations with the safety of the workforce and public as our top priority," said David Reber, project general manager for Washington Defense Group, EG&G Division of the URS Corporation, which operates the plant for the Army.
Prior to chemical weapons disposal operations, the Pine Bluff Arsenal safely stored 3,850 tons of chemical agent or 12 percent of the Army's original chemical weapons stockpile for more than 60 years.