By Mr. Michael Abrams (AMC)December 21, 2011
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT -- The Anniston Chemical Activity played host to its 24th and final team of visiting international treaty inspectors.
Under the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention, Anniston Army Depot was visited at least two times each year by teams of chemical weapons inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Generally, there were two inspections of the storage igloos each year. Another team monitored all weapons destruction operations at the Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility.
Destruction operations at the ANCDF concluded three months ago. The treaty inspectors at the ANCDF returned to their headquarters at The Hague in The Netherlands two weeks later.
A closeout inspection of the munitions storage igloos was conducted Dec. 7 and 8. The inspectors' review concluded what was widely reported in September. The inspectors verified Anniston Chemical Activity no longer stores chemical munitions.
Wesley Bynum, ANCA's treaty compliance officer, said, "The treaty inspectors were satisfied that ANCA, with the support of a number of depot employees, had properly documented the safe destruction of all 661,529 chemical munitions and containers that were stored here."
"Every inspection, whether it be by higher headquarters or another agency, carries with it a level of stress. Employees and responsible agents work hard to make sure everything is correct and properly documented," said Lt. Col. Willie J. Flucker, ANCA commander.
"Our treaty office met the requirements to ensure Anniston also met established treaty deadlines. I am proud of the excellent job they did."
Bynum pointed out the recent inspection team leader praised ANCA personnel for their professionalism. He made several trips to Anniston over the years and congratulated ANCA for completing its mission.
Lisa Waschko, ANCA deputy treaty compliance officer, has been involved in every one of the inspections.
"The first visit was exceptionally intense. (We) had been preparing for five years (through) training, negotiating, traveling to our sister sites, and coordinating with the many offices all over the depot who would be participants in making the inspections happen. The OPCW had been doing the same.
"The first inspection finally arrived and all our preparation paid off. It was long hours and lots of work, but so gratifying," she recalled.
While the treaty inspectors focused on ANCA storage facilities and procedures, representatives from several different ANAD organizations supported the visits. Waschko said, "In the beginning, we had more than 300 personnel on the treaty team. Those needs changed as time passed and we were able to streamline the effort. We had seamless support between ANCA and ANAD.
"When it came to the treaty mission there was no ANCA and ANAD -- there was just treaty," Waschko said.
The ANCA mission has now changed since all of the chemical munitions and the agent those munitions contained have been destroyed. ANCA employees are preparing for closure by thoroughly inspecting and cleaning munitions storage igloos, turning in equipment that is no longer needed, and preparing empty facilities for possible ANAD reuse.
The ANCA work force is also changing. The first Reduction in Force will be conducted in early April. ANCA will be authorized 90 people to conclude its final closeout assignment. At the height of its operations, ANCA employed more than 170 people.