Issue Date: February 5, 2007
U.S. destroys 40% of chemical arsenal
The U.S. has destroyed 40% of its 30,000-ton arsenal of chemical weapons, Dale A. Ormond, acting director of the Army's Chemical Materials Agency, announced on Jan. 29. Under the terms of the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, the U.S. must destroy 45% of its chemical weapons—measured by agent weight—by this December, a milestone Ormond says the U.S. may achieve ahead of schedule. By contrast, Russia has destroyed just 19% of its 40,000-ton stockpile. Both countries are obligated to destroy their entire chemical arsenals by 2012. Two of the U.S.'s nine destruction sites—on Johnston Atoll in the Pacific Ocean and in Aberdeen, Md.—have completed their disposal operations and have been shuttered. Five of the remaining disposal sites—in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Oregon, and Utah—are currently destroying stockpiled weapons, but construction has yet to begin on plants to destroy weapons stored in Colorado and Kentucky. At the Newport, Ind., site, the Army is in the process of neutralizing 1,269 tons of VX nerve agent stored in bulk. Secondary treatment of the resulting wastewater, called hydrolysate, was to be done off-site at a DuPont facility in New Jersey. The Army had maintained that off-site secondary treatment would be faster and cheaper than building an on-site secondary treatment facility. But on Jan. 5, DuPont announced that it was pulling out because the approval process was too "lengthy and arduous." And in a Jan. 26 study, the Government Accountability Office "determined that the underlying cost estimates used [by the Army] were not reliable."
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