Pine Bluff Arsenal nears end of chemical weapons disposal

Disposal operations for chemical weapons are nearing completion at the Pine Bluff Arsenal in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

Arsenal officials confirmed that the last of the one ton containers that store mustard gas at the facility have been taken to the disposal site, according to USA Today.

According to Lt. Col Nathaniel Farmer, the head of the Pine Bluff Chemical Activity operation, the strictest safety and security procedures were used to transport a total of 5,879 containers of nerve and blister agents over a five-year period, USA Today reports.

Pine Bluff has been used as a weapons of mass destruction storage facility since the 1940s. The disposal of the last containers will mean the end of the mission of the Pine Bluff Chemical Agent Disposal Facility.

The last disposal and elimination of the mustard agent is scheduled for December 2010. The munitions are being destroyed under the terms of an international treaty signed and ratified by the United States.

The Pine Bluff facility is one of only six facilities in the nation to store chemical weapons. It was established in 1941 and first used to manufacture incendiary weapons such as grenades and bombs. Its original name was the Chemical Warfare Arsenal, but that was changed four months after the facility opened.

The arsenal’s entire stockpile of nerve agents were destroyed by 2008, under the direction of a civilian contractor, the Washington Demilitarization Company.