Umatilla to increase mustard agent destruction

Oregon regulators have recently approved of a plan for the Umatilla Chemical depot to increase its rate of of an aging stockpile of chemical weapons.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality authorized a 25 percent increase in the depot's processing rate to destroy chemical mustard agent, according to the East Oregonian.

Officials from the plant said that the faster rate should allow the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility to take only a year to destroy its remaining stockpile of 1,200 tons of mustard agent.

When workers at the Umatilla demilitarization camp began work in 2009, the stockpile consisted of 2,339 tons of the chemical agent, the East Oregonian reports.

In September, the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal facility increased its processing rate from 50 percent to 75 percent.

"We have demonstrated to the DEQ our ability to safely process agent at these levels, and the plant is operating 24 hours a day to incinerate the last of the chemical agent stored at the depot," Steve Warren, a project general manager for URS, the contractor operating the incineration plant, said in a statement, according to

The United States is party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which has been signed by 188 countries. The treaty calls for the United States to destroy all of its chemical agents by April 29, 2012.