Umatilla set to destroy overfilled mustard agent containers

The Umatilla Chemical Depot incineration plant plans to process nine "overfilled" mustard weapon agent ton containers over the next few days.

The Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility, located in Umatilla, Ore., will take special precautions to avoid any spills of the chemical weapon agent in the bulk drain station room, the Tri City Herald reports. Overfilled ton containers had been filled to the brim, which makes it difficult to avoid spilling the agent when the container is punched.

Approximately one year ago, the first overfilled ton container was punched and sent mustard weapon agent across the room, which forced an extensive clean up and decontamination. A splash shield has since been developed to minimize contamination.

Of the nine remaining overfilled ton containers, the five that weigh less than 2,000 pounds are expected to drain without difficulty. The four heaviest, however, which range from 2,003 to 2,101 pounds, are expected to present contamination issues that the splash shield should help to minimize.

The plant plans to destroy the last of the agent in November, the Tri City Herald reports.

The UMCD is one of five Army installations in the United States that currently stores chemical weapons. All of the munitions that contained VX and GB nerve agents have already been destroyed.

The plant opened in 1941 and began storing chemical weapons in 1962. The UMCDF was designed for the sole purpose of destroying the chemical weapons. The Army began the disposal of weapons in 2004.