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Chemical Demilitarization Program

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Chemical Demilitarization Program 

“To protect people and the environment by overseeing the safe destruction of chemical agents at the Umatilla Chemical Depot as soon as possible.”

Program Overview
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s Chemical Demilitarization Program, based in Hermiston, Oregon, provides environmental and human health oversight of the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility, eight miles west of Hermiston. The facility, administered by the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency, is operated under contract by Washington Demilitarization Company LLC. The facility is in charge of destroying by incineration the stockpile of chemical munitions that had been stored at the Army’s nearby Umatilla Chemical Depot for decades.

Facility Permit and Permittees
DEQ’s provides its oversight through its issuance and updating of a hazardous waste storage and treatment facility permit for the disposal facility. The official permittees for the facility are the Umatilla Chemical Depot and Washington Demilitarization Company. DEQ’s role includes conducting periodic inspections of the facility and analyzing operational reports that the facility must submit to the state to ensure environmental compliance. DEQ is responsible for making sure the facility strictly follows permit conditions such as proper hazardous waste storage, maintenance and monitoring, as well as proper equipment maintenance, to ensure the facility operates in a manner that won’t harm the public or environment.

In October 2011, the Army completed destruction of the last chemical munitions materials that had been stored at the Umatilla Chemical Depot. The Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility destroyed nearly 4,000 tons of chemical agent since it began incinerating the material in September 2004.

Umatilla Chemical Demilitarization Program

As of Oct. 25, 2011 the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility had completed safe destruction of all of the following chemical agents:

GB rockets, containing deadly sarin nerve agent. Destruction completed July 8, 2007.

Sarin nerve agent VX munitions. Destruction completed Nov. 5, 2008.

HD ton containers (“mustard” or blister agent). Destruction completed Oct. 25, 2011.

The Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility is one of eight facilities in the United States and one in Johnston Atoll in the Pacific Ocean in charge of destroying the stockpile of chemical munitions that the Army has accumulated over the decades. It is the sixth to complete its work. So far, facilities in Newport, Indiana; Pine Bluff, Arkansas; Anniston, Alabama; Johnston Atoll; and Aberdeen, Maryland, have completed their destruction of chemical agents. Facilities in Tooele, Utah; Blue Grass, Kentucky; and Pueblo, Colorado continue efforts to safely destroy their local stockpiles of chemical weapons. Complete destruction of chemical agent stockpiles in the United States is now expected by 2023.

Facility Closure Plan
While destruction of chemical agents in Oregon has concluded, DEQ’s Chemical Demilitarization Program will continue overseeing the Umatilla Chemical Depot/Washington Demilitarization Company hazardous waste storage and treatment facility permit as the facility is closed down.

The permit, which was most recently renewed Sept. 20, 2011 and expires Sept. 20, 2021, includes a formal facility closure plan. The facility must follow detailed procedures to properly dismantle and dispose of equipment used in the incineration of chemical agent. The Umatilla Chemical Depot/Washington Demilitarization Company’s is currently seeking a permit modification to allow disposal of secondary waste from the weapons destruction operations to be shipped to an authorized hazardous waste landfill.

Umatilla Chemical Demilitarization Program

The Umatilla Chemical Depot began receiving and storing chemicals munitions between 1962 and 1969. The chemical warfare agents VX and GB (nerve agents) and HD (blister or “mustard” agent) were stored as liquid in various types of munitions and containers, including rockets, bombs, projectiles, mines, bulk containers and aerial spray tanks. Chemical weapons stored at the Depot represented about 12 percent of the nation’s original chemical weapons stockpile.

In 1985 Congress directed the Army to destroy the entire U.S. chemical agent stockpile, as directed by the international Chemical Weapons Convention treaty. The treaty originally required signatory countries to completely destroy all chemical agent stockpiles by the year 2007. Since that time, countries have been given an extension to 2012. Congress has mandated that destruction of all chemical agent stockpiles in the U.S. be complete by Dec. 31, 2017. The U.S. Department of Defense is working with Congress to accelerate the program to come as close to meeting the 2017 deadline as possible.

In February 1997, the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission, DEQ’s governing body, issued environmental permits to the Army to construct, operate and ultimately close down the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility. Prior to the commission’s approval of those permits, DEQ in 1996 conducted a Pre-Trial Burn Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment. In 2010, DEQ completed a Final Post-Trial Burn Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment, using site-specific emission data from the facility. The assessment showed that the facility’s incineration of the chemical agent was being handled safely and effectively.

Additional Resources


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For more information about DEQ's Chemical Demilitarization Program call 541-298-7255.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Headquarters: 700 NE Multnomah Street, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97232
Phone: 503-229-5696 or toll free in Oregon 1-800-452-4011
Oregon Telecommunications Relay Service: 1-800-735-2900  FAX: 503-229-6124

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