Umatilla Depot finishes destroying mustad agent stockpile

The U.S. Army recently incinerated the last of its stockpile of mustard agent stored at the Umatilla Chemical Depot in Umatilla, Oregon.

Kim Jackson, the facility’s operations manager, was joined by 40 depot workers and half a dozen members of the media to watch the final ton container finish its short journey through a 1,400 degree natural gas furnace on Tuesday, according to

"It's time now for high fives and hugs," Jackson said, reported. "By eliminating this stockpile, you have made this community a safer place to live.”

For the nearby Columbia River towns, with a combined population of nearly 40,000, the final destruction of the stockpile was met with a sense of relief and trepidation. While the nearby chemical depot meant the risk of a potential accident or explosion that could have released a chemical cloud, it also meant jobs for the local workforce.

The incineration program began in 2004 and has cost taxpayers an estimated $2.7 billion. Nearly 1,200 people are expected to be out of work because of its closure and $49 million is estimated to be lost from payroll, according to Debbie Pedro of the nearby Hermiston Chamber of Commerce.

"These are all very good family wage jobs, great benefits," Pedro said, reports.

The number of military workers at the plant will drop from 260 to 78 by the end of 2012 and the civilian contractor in charge of the incarnation part of the plant’s activities, URS, Inc., will be gone completely by 2016 when the facility is dismantled.