By Richard ArndtNovember 15, 2010
Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. - The U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency
(CMA) announces the disposal of the last mustard agent-filled ton container in the chemical weapons stockpile of the Pine Bluff Arsenal, Ark. Disposal was completed safely the evening of Friday, Nov. 12, marking the end of chemical weapons storage at the Arsenal after nearly seven decades.
Pine Bluff Chemical Activity (PBCA) provided the safe and secure maintenance, storage and transport of approximately 12 percent of the nation's original chemical weapons stockpile, while ensuring maximum protection of the installation and community population and providing treaty compliance. PBCA personnel safely transported the original inventory of chemical weapons in 5,879 Enhanced On-Site Container deliveries from storage to the Pine Bluff Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (PBCDF). That inventory included 90,409 M55 GB rockets, 19,608
M55 VX rockets, 9,378 M23 VX landmines and 3,703 mustard ton containers.
The PBCDF provided safe and environmentally compliant chemical agent destruction operations, which began March 28, 2005. Workers destroyed the agent using incineration technology, following recommendations made by the National Research Council.
"For more than 60 years, the Pine Bluff team stored approximately 3,850 tons of the nation's original chemical agent stockpile. Today, the Pine Bluff stockpile has been safely disposed of," said CMA Director Conrad Whyne. "From the very beginning, employees at Pine Bluff and throughout the CMA made safety the cornerstone of our chemical weapons stockpile storage and destruction missions. Today we reap the benefits of their dedication and vigilance."
The PBCA and PBCDF will now begin closure operations, which will continue for approximately two years. Closure operations include official termination of surety status, closeout of treaty requirements, management and disposal of wastes through safe and environmentally acceptable methods, transfer of property, closeout of related permits, records archiving, budget requirements processing, contract closeout and management of human resources. Closure operations will be conducted in accordance with facility and storage area end-states as agreed upon with state regulators.
"The elimination of the chemical weapons stockpile at Pine Bluff Arsenal has truly been a team effort," said Carmen Spencer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for the Elimination of Chemical Weapons. "Thanks to the efforts of CMA and Pine Bluff Arsenal, and the support of the local community and the State of Arkansas, our world is a safer place and our Nation is one step closer to meeting its international commitment to dispose of its chemical weapons stockpile under the Chemical Weapons Convention."
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 safely completed disposal operations and closed facilities in Edgewood, Md.; Newport, Ind.; and Johnston Atoll, located 800 miles southwest of Hawaii. CMA continues to safely store and destroy chemical weapons stockpiles in Anniston, Ala.; Tooele, Utah; and Umatilla, Ore.
CMA also oversees the safe storage of chemical weapons stockpiles in Blue Grass, Ky., and Pueblo, Colo. The disposal of these munitions falls under the purview of the Program Manager Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, a Department of Defense program.
For more information about CMA, please visit www.cma.army.mil