DESERET CHEMICAL DEPOT, STOCKTON, Utah -- Workers at the Tooele Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (TOCDF) yesterday destroyed the last of 6,399 mustard agent-filled bulk containers originally stored at the U.S. Army's Deseret Chemical Depot (DCD).
The agent drained from the last bulk container, which exited the TOCDF Metal Parts Furnace at 5:30 p.m., is expected to be destroyed in a liquid incinerator over the next couple of days.
"This is a milestone we've looked forward to announcing for 15 years," said Depot Commander, Col. Mark Pomeroy. "While our chemical weapons destruction work is not quite finished at DCD, the mission of the TOCDF plant is nearly complete."
Ted Ryba, TOCDF site project manager for the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency said, "I am proud to have been here on that first day of destruction operations on August 22, 1996, and even more proud to be able to report that TOCDF has safely processed its last mustard agent-filled bulk container.
Less than one percent of the original stockpile of 13,600 tons of nerve and blister chemical agents remains to be destroyed. Work is continuing within the depot's munitions storage area on two separate projects which will complete the elimination of the chemical weapons stockpile here in Utah.
An explosive detonation chamber called the DAVINCH (Detonation of Ammunition in a Vacuum Integrated Chamber) will be used to destroy more than 300 mustard agent-filled 155-millimeter projectiles and 4.2 inch mortar cartridges whose condition is too poor to enable processing in the TOCDF. All of these projectiles and mortars are contained in over-pack containers and will be destroyed within the safe containment of the DAVINCH.
In addition, there are a relatively small number of bulk containers of GA nerve agent which was seized in Germany following World War II, and a slightly larger collection of bulk containers of Lewisite, a blister agent. These bulk agents will be destroyed in a separate, small-scale liquid incinerator. The entire DCD chemical weapons stockpile is expected to be safely eliminated early 2012.
Gary McCloskey, vice president and general manager of TOCDF systems contractor, URS, noted that all of the remaining chemical weapons destruction work at DCD is being conducted by URS and its subcontractors. McCloskey said, "After many years of careful and diligent work, I know I speak for our workers in expressing pride at what has been accomplished at the TOCDF. As we prepare to move the plant into a closure phase, let me assure the people of Utah that we will continue to work to safely complete our mission until the last drop of chemical agent is safely destroyed."
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