The Richmond Register

Local News

July 3, 2008

Report: Weapons can’t be destroyed by 2017

Transporting chemical weapons from the Blue Grass Army Depot to Arkansas and Alabama, as well as halting construction plans for the weapons disposal facility, are just a few among many alternatives the Department of Defense (DOD) has offered to help speed up the process of destroying America’s remaining chemical warfare.

The DOD recently submitted a semi-annual report to Congress stating that weapon stockpiles at Blue Grass Army Depot and Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado could not be destroyed by the 2017 deadline and suggested several alternatives.

“Destruction of the Kentucky stockpile (by way of Supercritical Water Oxidation) by December 2017 does not appear possible, but remains under study,” the report states.

The International Chemical Weapons Convention Treaty mandates the disposal of all chemical weapons by 2012, but in April of last year, the DOD acknowledged that the date is not feasible and proposed an extension until 2023. 

Reacting to such an extended program, Congress subsequently mandated a deadline of Dec. 31, 2017.

The DOD submitted three options for accelerating the rate of weapons destruction that include: providing special incentives administered based on the rate of disposal; transporting portions of weapons at the Blue Grass Army Depot and those in Colorado to disposal incineration locations such as Arkansas, Alabama, Utah and Oregon; and accelerating destruction schedules at both sites.

Even though transporting the weapons to alternate sites is an option given by the DOD, the report to Congress notes that doing this would help meet the 2017 deadline, but “confidence is low,” the report states.

To implement this option, the United States code deeming it illegal to transport chemical weapons over state lines would have to be changed. Changes also would have to be made to federal and state environmental requirements and military construction projects at depots in Kentucky and Colorado.

This is not the first time the DOD has altered plans to destroy America’s stockpile of chemical weapons.

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