Thursday, January 03, 2008

Goodbye, Nerve Gas. Tooele and it's sheep won't miss you. (Now with photo)

This U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency news release (PDF warning) came out the day after Christmas (emphasis my own):
U.S. Army Destroys Entire Stockpile of VX Spray Tanks

Final VX spray tank destroyed in Umatilla marks another milestone
for the Chemical Materials Agency

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – The U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency (CMA) announced the safe destruction of the last VX nerve agent-filled spray tank in the U.S. chemical stockpile. The last of the stockpiled spray tanks were destroyed at the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (UMCDF) in Umatilla, Ore., on Monday, Dec. 24, 2007.

Spray tank disposal operations first began at the Tooele Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (TOCDF) on July 23, 2004. Out of the 1,018 original stockpile spray tanks, TOCDF was responsible for the disposal of 862 tanks. On Nov. 23, 2007, the UMCDF began to safely destroy the last 156 spray tanks which were stored at the Umatilla Chemical Depot.

CMA’s Acting Director, Dale Ormond said, “In June 2006, the last sarin-filled MC1 bomb in the U.S. stockpile was destroyed. The elimination of yet another deadly weapon, the VX TMU-28 spray tank, from the stockpile demonstrates the Army’s commitment to ridding the country of chemical weapons; and doing it safely and efficiently.”

Conrad Whyne, CMA Deputy Director added, “The Army’s hard work and dedication is once again impeccable. The people at the Umatilla Chemical Depot, Deseret Chemical Depot, TOCDF and UMCDF have been outstanding in eliminating the last of the VX spray tanks. This is a major accomplishment and an important milestone for CMA and for the country.”

The TMU-28 VX nerve agent spray tanks were bulk agent containers designed to distribute the liquid agent in an aerosol form—as a fog or mist—from an aircraft onto battlefields. They were constructed with four major components: the agent container, aircraft suspension system, tail cone section and dissemination nozzle. Each tank could hold up to 160 gallons of VX nerve agent. The U.S. military never used the VX spray tanks, or any other chemical weapons, in combat.

Mr. Ormond stated, “CMA is committed to the continued safe destruction of the remaining U.S. Stockpile—safe for our workers, the public and the environment. We are doing it right!”

The Wired Danger Blog covers the story here.

I guess the real question is - how many other toxic substances are out there, and are they all being disposed of, and in what kind of timeframe?

Original caption: A Basque sheepherder carries a living sheep out of a brush area in Tooele County's skull valley while acdead animals lies in the foreground. Ranchers here shot 600 suffering sheep too weak to move and starving to death, March 24th (1968), bringing to about 7,000 the total number of sheep killed in the last ten days. A Utah veterinarian charged that had the Army admitted earlier that it was testing lethal nerve gas in Skull Valley, many of the sheep could have been saved.

It's rather scary that White Rocks is one of my favorite places to go camping.

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