2004 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 10 Sep 2004 00:57:21 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Umatilla Nerve Agent Destruction (2 articles)
End starts for Cold War-era weapons
The Umatilla Chemical Depot destroys its first rocket from the nation's stockpile as part of the Army's $2.4 billion project

The Oregonian
September 9, 2004

HERMISTON -- The first nerve gas rocket in a long-delayed $2.4 billion disposal project was destroyed Wednesday to begin eliminating a big chunk of the Cold War stockpile of the nation's remaining chemical weapons.

An electrical problem with a trapdoor designed to release chopped-up metal parts temporarily halted disposal of the M-55 rocket in one of the four incinerators built for the Army project at its Umatilla Chemical Depot near the Columbia River.

The trapdoor acts as a feed gate to deliver the sheared metal to a chute connected to an incinerator that burns off any traces of the remaining nerve agent.

An emergency shut-off switch had been inadvertently pressed, preventing the gate from opening, said Army spokeswoman Mary Binder. Technicians overrode the system with a jumper cable to open the gate and dispose of the rocket.

for the entire article, see

Umatilla weapons burner gets going
A stuck trapdoor delays the incineration of the first rocket with a nerve agent, but the Army is happy with the result

The Oregonian
September 9, 2004

HERMISTON -- Workers on Wednesday fed a rocket armed with 10 pounds of sarin nerve agent into machinery designed to burn it clean -- a long-practiced debut almost derailed by the careless press of a button.

The M-55 rocket was the first of 220,000-plus chemical weapons to be destroyed in the $395 million incinerator complex at the Army's Umatilla Chemical Depot. When workers hand-loaded the missile on the plant's conveyor line at 9:25 a.m., Umatilla became the fourth of five planned U.S. chemical weapons incinerators.

"Today, there's one less rocket that can harm the public," Don Barclay, the Army's site project manager, told about 30 area residents who gathered at an open house celebration in Hermiston.

But Wednesday's startup -- held up for years by legal and logistic concerns -- was delayed after a worker inadvertently pushed a button that prevented the rocket from dropping through a trapdoor into the incinerator.


Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918

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