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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Exceptional Accomplishment: Anniston Chemical Weapons Stockpile End of Operations

November 2, 2011

By CMA News

The Anniston team safely completed disposal operations of 661,529 nerve and mustard agent munitions and 2,254 tons of chemical agent on Sept. 22, 2011, marking the elimination of the chemical weapons stockpile at Anniston, Ala. While the Anniston Chemical Activity (ANCA) was responsible for the safe and secure maintenance, storage and movement of 7 percent of the original U.S. stockpile of chemical munitions and containers, the Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (ANCDF) used incineration and explosive destruction technologies to destroy the stockpile. The Anniston team commemorated their achievements in a ceremony on Oct. 19 at The Bridge, a multi-purpose facility on the campus of the Anniston First United Methodist Church.

Elected officials, community stakeholders, business leaders, educators, emergency management agency officials and others were joined by current and former employees at the mid-day ceremony. Notable guests included Alabama's U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers; Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody, Commanding General, U.S. Army Materiel Command; Carmen J. Spencer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Elimination of Chemical Weapons); Conrad F. Whyne, Director of the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency (CMA); and Phil Webb, Chairman of the Board of the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce.

Webb commented on the Anniston team's hard work by saying, "Today we can pause with confidence, take a deep breath and know we no longer have to worry about chemical weapons. This was a job well done by a well-trained workforce. To those in leadership, you have my personal thank you and the Chamber thanks you. To the workforce, God bless you and thank you!"

Whyne added, "You are a prime example of how teamwork and perseverance leads to success. You have made a safer community that you can rightfully take pride in calling home. We are grateful to you and proud of your success."

Chemical munitions were stored at Anniston Army Depot since 1963 until this year. Disposal of the weapons began in August 2003. In March 2006, Anniston completed destruction of GB nerve agent followed by completion of VX nerve agent munitions in December 2008. The site completed destruction of blister agent in September 2011, marking the complete destruction of the stockpile. Overall, more than 20,257 deliveries of chemical weapons were made to the ANCDF.

Now that the weapons are gone, the risk of an incident or accident is also gone, making Alabama a safer place to live. During the ceremony, Spencer added a personal note by saying, "This is not about the destruction of the weapons, it is about the people…I have eight grandchildren and you have made the world a safer place for them. Thank you."

The Anniston team is now in closure operations, with ANCA employees surveying, testing and remediating the storage igloos before they are returned to the depot for possible reuse. ANCA employees are also preparing the munitions handling equipment for possible reissue to the remaining chemical storage sites in Colorado and Kentucky. Closure is expected to continue for approximately 18 to 24 months.

On the subject of completing the mission, Rep. Rogers said, "Today is a great day. As I look back on my tenure in Congress,there is not one moment I am more proud of than to know I assisted in seeing this program get started and now end."

Anniston is CMA's sixth site to complete disposal operations. The Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility recently completed disposal operations and the Pine Bluff Chemical Agent Disposal Facility is in closure operations. Three of CMA's sites--Newport Chemical Agent Disposal Facility in Indiana, Aberdeen Chemical Agent Disposal Facility in Maryland and Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal Facility in the South Pacific have already closed. CMA continues the safedestruction of chemical weapons at Tooele, Utah, and the safe storage of chemical weapons at Blue Grass, Ky., and Pueblo, Colo.

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