VX Destroyed At Newport Depot | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: August 14, 2008

VX Destroyed At Newport Depot

Controversial neutralization of nerve agent at Indiana site is complete
Department: Government & Policy
Final ton container of VX agent is loaded for neutralization at the Newport depot.
Credit: Newport Chemical Depot
Final ton container of VX agent is loaded for neutralization at the Newport depot.
Credit: Newport Chemical Depot

The last container of VX nerve agent of the Newport, Ind., chemical weapons stockpile has been destroyed.

"Newport's stockpile has been safely eliminated, which brings the U.S. one step closer to fulfilling the commitment of destroying our nation's chemical weapons," according to Conrad Whyne, director of the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency.

The Newport Chemical Depot has neutralized 1,269 tons of liquid chemical agent VX since operations began in May 2005. The chemical destruction process mixes the VX with hot sodium hydroxide in a reactor, and it generates a caustic wastewater, or hydrolysate, which is shipped to Veolia Environmental Services in Port Arthur, Texas, for final treatment by incineration (C&EN, March 24, page 29). The final shipment of hydrolysate will take place in the next couple of weeks.

The completion of the work at Newport brings the total amount of chemical weapons destroyed by the U.S. to about 17,000 tons, or about 55% of its total declared stockpile. Destruction of chemical weapons continues at sites in Anniston, Ala.; Pine Bluff, Ark.; Tooele, Utah; and Umatilla, Ore. Two additional destruction sites are under development in Pueblo, Colo., and Blue Grass, Ky.

Global Green USA, an environmental affiliate of Green Cross International that monitors the progress of chemical weapons destruction, applauds the completion of work at the Newport depot but chastises the U.S. for not working hard enough to meet destruction deadlines set by the International Chemical Weapons Convention.

"The Bush Administration and Congress have failed to adequately fund the safe destruction of chemical weapons in both the U.S. and Russia today, thereby delaying the process for a decade or more and potentially undermining the global ban on this whole class of weapons of mass destruction," Global Green Director Paul F. Walker said in a statement.

Under the convention, the U.S. pledged to completely destroy its chemical weapons stockpile by 2012. The Department of Defense, however, has stated that because of funding problems and other restrictions, it is unlikely it will be able to complete the task until 2017.

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