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Army safely destroys one third of nation's chemical agent

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Army News Service Jan. 3, 2005) --The U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency announced that by the end of the year it had safely destroyed one third of the nation's stored chemical agent.

Workers at the Aberdeen Chemical Agent Disposal Facility, located at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., have destroyed more than 70 percent of the mustard agent stockpile that has been stored for more than 60 years at the installation. The facility remains on track to complete destruction of this stockpile this winter, said Michael A. Parker, CMA director.

"The dedicated workers at all of our disposal facilities are making great strides to eliminate these weapons and make our nation safer in the process," Parker said. "We remain focused on our mission and will use our expertise, experience and resolve to continue this work until the last of this materiel is safely destroyed."

While meeting the destruction provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention treaty signed by the United States in 1997, CMA officials said the mission of the agency is to protect and safely store the United States' aging chemical weapons, while employing technologies to safely and effectively destroy the nation's chemical stockpile as well as recover, treat and ultimately eliminate other chemical warfare materiel.

Thus far, the Army has destroyed more than 42 percent of the nation's chemical weapons munitions, and 10,503 tons of chemical agent, representing one third of the total stockpile.

That's more than 1.4 million munitions such as rockets, land mines, projectiles and artillery shells, said Jeff Lindblad, CMA public affairs officer. The chemical agent stockpile includes a combination of GB or Sarin and VX, both nerve agents, and mustard agent, he added.

All of the chemical weapons on Johnston Island in the Pacific were the first to be eliminated by the Army. Along with Aberdeen, chemical weapons are currently being destroyed in Tooele, Utah, Anniston, Ala., and Umatilla, Ore.

Operations to destroy chemical weapons are anticipated to begin within the next year in Pine Bluff, Ark., and Newport, Ind.

The U.S. Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Materiel Program, another arm of CMA, has also made substantial progress in destroying chemical materiel considered separate from the chemical stockpile. This includes former production facilities and recovered chemical warfare materiel, officials said.

NSCMP reached a key milestone in 2003 by destroying more than 80 percent of the nation's original chemical weapons production capabilities 16 months ahead of schedule, officials said.

In November, NSCMP completed a major phase in its ongoing demolition of a former production facility at Pine Bluff Arsenal, in White Hall, Ark., one of the two still remaining (the other is at Newport Chemical Depot, in Vermillion, Ind.). Both will be demolished by the April 2007 deadline established under the CWC.

To learn more about the CMA's programs and activities, visit the agency's Web site at OCPA Public Affairs Home OCPA Public Affairs Home


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