UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)



REGARDING u.s. chemical demilitarization program

 APRIL 1, 2004

Mr. Chairman and distinguished committee members, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the Department of Defense Chemical Demilitarization Program. 

I am Dr. Dale Klein, the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Chemical and Biological Defense Programs.  In this capacity, I am the principal advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense and the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, for all matters concerning the formulation of policy and plans for nuclear, chemical, and biological defense programs and directly responsible for matters associated with nuclear weapons safety and security and chemical weapons demilitarization. 

The mission of the DoD Chemical Demilitarization Program is to safely destroy all U.S. chemical warfare-related materiel while ensuring maximum protection of the public, personnel involved in the destruction effort, and the environment.  We have learned since 1986, when Congress mandated the destruction of our chemical weapons stockpile, that there are many unanticipated challenges associated with a national program of this magnitude.  Indeed, the Chemical Demilitarization Program is now entering an important milestone, where six separate sites each operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in four separate time zones, will be simultaneously destroying different chemical agents in various configurations, using different technologies, and employing different contractors. 

Today I would like to provide a brief status update on the DoD Chemical Demilitarization Program and to reaffirm the importance of fully funding the President's Fiscal Year 2005 Chemical Demilitarization Program Budget request, which has been submitted in compliance with Public Law 107-314, Section 141a.


Program Status

Currently, three chemical weapons destruction sites are operational.  These include the incinerators at Tooele, Utah and Anniston, Alabama, and neutralization technology at Aberdeen, Maryland.  The Department expects to begin operations at three additional sites during 2004, to include incinerators at Umatilla, Oregon and Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and the neutralization technology site at Newport, Indiana.  The remaining neutralization sites at Pueblo, Colorado and Blue Grass, Kentucky, are early in the design and environmental permitting stages of development.  While this is a summary-level synopsis of the overall status, I can provide you a more detailed account of the status on a site-by-site basis if desired.


FY 2005 Budget Summary

The funds requested for the Chemical Demilitarization Program in the Fiscal Year 2005 President's Budget are necessary for the Department of Defense to destroy the U.S. national chemical weapons stockpile as mandated by Public Law 99-145 and the Chemical Weapons Convention.  These funds will allow the Department to continue chemical weapons destruction operations at Tooele, Utah; Anniston, Alabama; Umatilla, Oregon; Newport, Indiana; and Pine Bluff, Arkansas. The request also funds ton container cleanout operations at Aberdeen, Maryland; maintains Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program activities at all remaining chemical weapons stockpile sites; and continues the design, environmental permitting and military construction projects at the Pueblo, Colorado and Blue Grass, Kentucky sites.

Eliminating targets of opportunity for terrorists such as the continued storage of our chemical weapons stockpile is essential.  It is also essential to ensuring the U.S. meets its Chemical Weapons Convention obligations.  Maintaining operations at all current destruction sites allow us to achieve the Chemical Weapons Convention 45% extended deadline of December 31, 2007.


Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives Program (ACWA)

While six of the eight chemical weapons destruction sites are expected to be operational in Fiscal Year 2005, the Department has only recently begun the acquisition process for the two remaining sites at Pueblo, Colorado and Blue Grass, Kentucky. 

At the beginning stages of any acquisition program, the Department is required to conduct analyses to ensure that the program conforms to reasonable cost and schedule guidelines.  These analyses help fulfill our obligation of responsible resource management to the U.S. taxpayer.  Late last year, the Department reviewed the emerging design concept for Pueblo, and contrary to our expectations, it was different than originally approved, with unanticipated additional funding requirements.  The Department is therefore conducting evaluations of design variants for Pueblo as well as for Blue Grass.  

The Department has been asked why the President's Fiscal Year 2005 chemical demilitarization budget request for $1.5 billion reduces research and development funding for the Pueblo Chemical Agent Pilot Plant by $147 million.  In exercising our due diligence, we recognized that the ACWA Program would have difficulties obligating and disbursing the funding previously identified for the Pueblo project, given the expectation of carryover funds from Fiscal Year 2004.  Pending the results of our design concept analysis, we moved $147 million from the Pueblo research and development funding line to balance the requirements and resources identified in other areas of the Chemical Demilitarization Program.  These include critical Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program requirements and an improved chemical agent monitoring capability.  These are areas that have been repeatedly scrutinized by members of Congress, state and local governments, and special interest groups.  Based on information provided by the Army, the Department agrees that increasing funding in these areas will address these important issues.

We also agree with citizens and elected officials alike that it is important to accelerate destruction efforts at Pueblo and Blue Grass.  We also agree that any facility we design, construct, and operate must be safe, environmentally protective, and cost effective as required by Congress which was the basis of our technology selections at both sites.  Our efforts to exercise fiscal responsibility on this program have never been intended or expected to delay the actual destruction of chemical agent at Pueblo or Blue Grass.  Our intent is to confirm that the technologies chosen for these two sites are cost effective, technically viable, and able to ensure the safety of the surrounding communities, workers, and the environment. 

As the General Accounting Office reported last September, management of the DoD Chemical Demilitarization Program is unnecessarily complex and should be streamlined.  While the Army has done a great job of streamlining the program by the creation of the Chemical Materials Agency, further efficiencies are necessary.  Consolidation of all chemical weapons elimination efforts into a single organization will create economies of scale and will allow us to unify the program during a time of much activity.  The ACWA Program has been successful in identifying the technology to be used at the Pueblo, Colorado and Blue Grass, Kentucky sites.  Now we need to move through the implementation phase.  Placing the ACWA program under the Army with continued OSD oversight will enable the Army to better manage the total Chemical Demilitarization Program.


Final Remarks

In conclusion, I want to emphasize the Department's commitment to destroying our nation's chemical weapons stockpile safely and expeditiously.  We have many distinct challenges; however, we are prepared to work every issue to bolster our overall efforts in this prominent national security program, and to meet our obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention.  I welcome your comments on our program's progress, and look forward to working with you to advance our common goal of the safe and complete destruction of our national chemical weapons stockpile.

House Armed Services Committee
2120 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list