Burning of mustard agents at Umatilla Chemical Depot begins

Now that several safety issues have been resolved at the Umatilla Chemical Depot, a trial burn of mustard agent chemical weapons has begun, the Tri-City (Wash.) Herald reports. 

All of the mustard agents held at the facility are expected to be destroyed by the spring of 2012, the Tri-City Herald reports. The mustard agents are the last of the chemical agents stored at the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility.

Hal McCune, URS protocol manager at the facility, told the Herald that the trial burn will provide information on the pace of operations. The Herald reports that the trial burn is required to show that the facility is able to meet standards to destroy the entire mustard agent reserve stored there. A

According to the Herald, about 2,400 ton-containers of the mustard agent remain in the stockpile. About 233 containers of mustard agent have been burned since June 2009, the Herald reports.

The trial burn can last up to 60 days and must show that the plant meets emission standards to burn the mustard agent. The plant has failed to do so in the past, according to the Herald. The Oregon State Department of Environmental Quality halted burning in late 2009 because it had concerns about emissions.