The Northwest is now chemical weapons free

Oct 25, 2011

Workers at the Umatilla Chemical Depot in northeast Oregon have incinerated the very last of the chemical mustard agent stored there.

The depot was once home to 3,717 tons of heavily guarded chemical agent in bombs, rockets and one-ton containers. Now, the sage-studded expanse sits empty.

There’s nothing left in the underground bunkers covered by oddly shaped mounds. The more-than 7-year incineration campaign ends well ahead of a treaty deadline of April 2012. Michael Fletcher with the U.S. Army says many workers on the base watched live video of the final container as it exited the incinerator empty.

“Some boisterous clapping and everything for that. A lot of satisfaction for a job well done,” Fletcher said.

About 1,000 workers will lose their jobs at Umatilla over the next three years. The base is in the process of transitioning into an industrial park, Oregon National Guard base and wildlife refuge.

Copyright 2011 Northwest Public Radio