More than 5 million pounds of chemical agent destroyed at Umatilla

Workers from the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Factory in Umatilla, Oregon, passed a major milestone last week, destroying a total of 5 million pounds of chemical agent since beginning operations in September 2004.

Hal McCune, the protocol manager for the demilitarization contractor at the Umatilla Chemical Depot, told the East Oregonian that the barrier had been broken as of October 24.

Since workers commenced the weapons destruction in 2004, they have eliminated large stockpiles of sarin and VX, which are both nerve agents, the East Oregonian reports. They finished the sarin destruction in July 2007 and will complete the VX destruction in November 2012.

The Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Factory is currently working on the destruction of mustard gas, the lowest-risk material that is stored at the depot. The mustard gas campaign is scheduled for completion in spring 2012. Workers have already destroyed 36 percent of the total 4.7 million pounds of mustard gas that the depot has on hand.

More than 59 percent of the total mustard agent that is stored at the facility has been eliminated, according to the East Oregonian.

The Umatilla Chemical Depot was founded in 1941 as part of preparations for World War II, and began storing chemical agents in 1962. It is one of only seven facilities of its type located in the United States.