US Army Destroys Last VX Nerve-Agent Weapons
Focus on Defense:
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md., Dec. 29, 2008 -- The U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency marked the elimination of the last VX nerve-agent munitions from its stockpiles Dec. 24 with destruction of the last land mine containing VX at the Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility in Anniston, Ala.
"I commend Anniston and all CMA destruction sites on this extraordinary achievement. By destroying the VX agent at each of CMA's destruction sites, you have made the world a much safer place," said Conrad Whyne, director of CMA.
The ANCDF Site Project Manager Timothy K. Garrett, declared, "We have reached a truly remarkable milestone following more than five years of deliberate, but careful operations. All nerve-agent munitions - those containing GB and those containing VX -have been safely processed."
CMA personnel and contractors have destroyed the VX nerve-agent munitions at six disposal sites: Anniston, Ala.; Umatilla, Ore.; Newport, Ind.; Pine Bluff, Ark.; Tooele, Utah; and Johnston Island approximately 800 miles southwest of Hawaii.
CMA continues to safely and securely store the remaining VX in the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile at the Blue Grass Chemical Activity near Richmond, Ky., officials said. A separate Department of Defense organization, the U.S. Army Element Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, is charged with its destruction, with construction currently under way on a neutralization facility there.
Destruction of chemical weapons is complete at Newport, Ind., Aberdeen, Md., and Johnston Island in the Pacific. Operations continue at Tooele, Umatilla, Anniston, and Pine Bluff, CMA's remaining destruction sites. These sites are destroying or preparing to destroy blister agent and the only remaining nerve agent for CMA's destruction mission - GA (Tabun) at Tooele. In addition to Kentucky, CMA continues to safely store chemical- agent munitions at Pueblo, Colo., officials said.
VX is the least volatile, but most potent of all chemical warfare agents, officials said. They said it attacks the nervous system, causing the muscles to convulse uncontrollably. Exposure can result in loss of consciousness, convulsions, paralysis, and respiratory failure resulting in death. The nerve agent works similarly to pesticide and was originally developed in the early 1950s. The nation's entire original stockpile of approximately 4,400 tons of VX was produced at Newport Chemical Depot between 1961 and 1969. Newport's production facility was destroyed in 2006.
VX nerve agent was never used in combat by the United States.
"The elimination of this deadly chemical agent from each site's stockpile is a relief to the stockpile communities, and a sign of our commitment to other nations as we move one step closer to a safer world," said Whyne.
(Report from a CMA Public Affairs news release.)
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