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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Umatilla Chemical Depot (UMCD)

The Umatilla Chemical Depot (UMCD) was one of nine Army installations in the United States that stored chemical weapons. The chemical weapons originally stored at the depot consisted of various munitions and ton containers containing GB or VX nerve agents or HD blister agent. Stockpile disposal operations were successfully concluded in October 2011 using high-temperature incineration technology. This technology has been used by the Army for more than two decades, safely at several sites to successfully dispose of more than 80 percent of the nationís original chemical weapons.

The Army worked in partnership with Oregon state and local government agencies, as well as federal agencies like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to safeguard the local community and protect the environment as we stored and disposed of these chemical weapons. The Army safely stored approximately 12 percent of the nation's original chemical weapons at the Umatilla Chemical Depot starting in 1962.

The UMCD opened in 1941. The depot's mission was to store and maintain a variety of military items, from blankets to ammunition. The depotís mission, however, changed in 1962 to include the safe storage of chemical weapons. From 1990 to 1994 the facility reorganized in preparation for eventual closure, shipping all conventional ammunition and supplies to other installations.

The Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (UMCDF) was designed for the sole purpose of destroying the chemical weapons stored at the UMCD. Facility construction was completed in 2001, and the Army began testing the facility. Weapons disposal took place from 2004-2011.

Umatilla Chemical Depot (UMCD) is a 19,728-acre military facility located in northeastern Oregon, on the border of Morrow and Umatilla counties. It was established as an Army ordnance depot in 1941. Activities at the facility have included the disassembly, analysis, modification, reassembly, repacking, and storage of conventional munitions, and the storage of chemical-filled munitions and containerized chemical agents. The UCD facility is currently slated for realignment under the Department of Defense Base Realignment and Closure program. When the Army eventually vacates the sites, the facility could be released to private interests for either light industrial or residential use. Retention of the Ammunition Demolition Area (ADA) under Government control for use in military training is also being considered.

Formerly known as the Umatilla Depot Activity (UMDA), the facility was established in 1941 as an ordnance facility for storing conventional munitions in support of the United State's entry into World War II. In 1962, the Army began storing chemical munitions at the facility. The facility was placed on the U.S. EPA National Priorities List NPL) in 1987. The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission in 1988 listed UMDA for closure, which is scheduled for 2004, making the land available for private sale and use after that time. Current plans call for the facility to be made available for wildlife management, commercial and industrial development, and, possibly for agricultural use.

It lies approximately 3 miles south of the Columbia River, in Umatilla and Morrow Counties, Oregon (population 59,250, and 7,650, respectively). The facility is located about 12 miles northwest of Hermiston (population about 10,050). There is currently no on-post housing. The Depot occupies a roughly rectangular area of 19,728 acres. The U.S. Army owns about 17,054 acres. The remaining acreage is covered by restrictive easements.

From 1945 to the present, ordnance and other solid wastes generated at UCD were burned, detonated, or otherwise disposed of at the ADA. Twenty sites were identified at which these activities were conducted. The risk associated with future exposure to the contaminated soil in the ADA exceeded the National Contingency Plan guidelines and indicated remediation was required. In addition, the sites contain unexploded ordnance as a result of ordnance disposal operations.

The facility was established in 1941 as an ordnance facility for storing conventional munitions in support of the United State's entry into World War II. The construction of 1,001 ammunition storage igloos began in February 1941. Subsequently, the functions of the Depot were extended to include ammunition demolition (1945), renovation (1947) and maintenance (1955). The U.S. Army began storing chemical munitions at the facility in 1962. Conventional (explosive) ordnance is no longer stored at UMCD. Chemical weapons are stored at a separate facility within the boundaries of the depot. These weapons are scheduled to be destroyed by 2004. No transfer of land will be made until the chemical weapons stored within the facility are neutralized.

Umatilla's stockpile consisted of projectiles, rockets, land mines, spray tanks and bombs containing the nerve agents GB and VX. Ton containers stored at the depot are filled with the blister agent HD, more commonly referred to as mustard agent. Chemical weapons storage facilities are operated under the U.S. Army Chemical and Biological Defense Command. Currently 12% of the nation's stockpiled chemical munitions are stored within UMCD. In 1986, in response to public concern about the potential health threat posed by the disposal of chemical weapons, Congress passed Public Law 99-145, which requires the Department of Defense (DOD) to dispose of chemical weapon stockpiles. In accordance with 50 U.S.C. (War and National Defense), (Chapter 32) section 1521, that mandates the destruction of chemical weapons by December 31, 2004, the U.S. Army planned to build and operate an incineration facility to treat the chemical weapons stockpiled at UMCD.

    Disposal Schedule:
    Construction:     1997
    Testing:          2000
    Operations:       2002
    Closure:          2005
    AGENT        ITEM                  QUANTITY    POUNDS
    HD-Blister   Ton Containers          2,635   4,679,040
    GB-Nerve     155mm Projectiles      47,406     308,140
    GB-Nerve     8-inch Projectiles     14,246     206,560
    GB-Nerve     M55 Rockets            91,375     977,720
    GB-Nerve     M56 Rocket Warheads        67         720
    GB-Nerve     500-lb. Bombs              27       2,920
    GB-Nerve     750-lb. Bombs           2,418     531,960
    VX-Nerve     155mm Projectiles      32,313     193,880
    VX-Nerve     8-inch Projectiles      3,752      54,400
    VX-Nerve     Mines                  11,685     122,700
    VX-Nerve     M55 Rockets            14,513     145,140
    VX-Nerve     M56 Rocket Warheads         6          60
    VX-Nerve     Spray Tanks               156     211,540

A Superfund cleanup project at Umatilla Depot pioneered the use of microbes in cleaning up soils contaminated by explosive compounds. Bioremediation generally is used in oil-based contamination cleanups. However, in this case, the Army worked closely with U.S. EPA and others to develop a way for the microbes to work on soils contaminated by explosives. The lagoon cleanup at Umatilla represents the first use of composting and microbes to remediate explosives at a Superfund site. The lagoon site is an area where conventional bombs were dismantled and washed out with water in the 1950s and early 1960s. Among the compounds washed out in the cleaning process were TNT (trinitrotoluene) and RDX (royal demolition explosive), both toxic nitrogen-based explosives.

BRAC 2005

In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to close Umatilla Chemical Depot, OR. There was no additional chemical demilitarization workload slated to go to Umatilla Chemical Depot. The projected date for completion of its existing workload was 2nd quarter of 2011. There would be no further use for Umatilla Chemical Depot.

The total one time cost to the Department of Defense to implement this recommendation would be $15.5M. The net of all costs and savings to the Department during the implementation period would be a savings of $89.1M. Annual recurring savings to the Department after implementation would be $61.0M with a payback expected immediately. The Net present value of the costs and savings to the Department over 20 years would be a savings of $681.1M. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 884 jobs (512 direct jobs and 372 indirect jobs) over the 2006 - 2011 period in the Pendleton-Hermiston, OR Micropolitan Statistical Area (2.0 percent). Environmentally, surveys and consultation with the SHPO would be required to determine disposition of archaeological and historical resources. Restoration, monitoring, access control, and deed restrictions might be required for former waste management areas to prevent disturbance, health and safety risks, and/or long term release of toxins to environmental media. Restoration and monitoring of contaminated sites would likely be required after closure to prevent significant long-term impacts to the environment. This recommendation would require spending approximately $1.3M for environmental compliance activities. This cost was included in the payback calculation. Umatilla reported approximately $10.3M in environmental restoration costs. Because the Department of Defense would have a legal obligation to perform environmental restoration regardless of whether an installation was closed, realigned, or remains open, this cost was not included in the payback calculation.

The Umatilla Chemical Depot stores chemical weapons under the Army's Chemical and Biological Defense Command. The chemical munitions were received for storage at the depot from 1962 through 1969.

The Umatilla Chemical Depot contains 89 storage igloos, holding approximately 12% of the original chemical weapons stockpile.

Storage igloos are built with cement and steel rebar. The igloos are then covered with dirt, keeping the inside temperature at 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit year round, helping to maintain safe storage conditions.

A Umatilla Chemical Depot employee stands in front of a storage igloo. Safely stored inside this igloo are munitions containing the nerve agent sarin (GB).

The Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility will be a state-of-the-art facility designed to safely and efficiently dispose of the chemical weapons stockpile stored at the Umatilla Chemical Depot.

The facility, located approximately seven miles west of Hermiston, Oregon, will dispose of 3,717 tons, or 11.6 percent of the original stockpile of chemical weapons.

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Page last modified: 10-09-2013 13:45:17 ZULU