By DoD News
By David Vergun
On July 7, disposal experts destroyed the last remaining M55 rocket filled with deadly sarin nerve agent at a storage facility in Kentucky.
With the disposal, the Defense Department completed the safe elimination of all declared chemical agents amassed between World War I and the late 1960s. The U.S. stockpile once consisted of about 30,600 tons of chemical warfare agents.
Deborah G. Rosenblum, assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs, spoke today at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Richmond, Kentucky, where she addressed political leaders and workers from the state’s Blue Grass Army Depot, where the last chemical agents were destroyed.
“With this milestone, the United States reinforces its commitment to achieving a world free of chemical weapons,” Rosenblum said.
The milestone ushered the U.S. into compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention, a treaty prohibiting the production and use of chemical weapons and their destruction. The U.S. ratified the treaty in 1997, joining a coalition that now includes nearly 200 countries.
In January 2020, the main plant at Blue Grass began operations using neutralization to destroy chemical agent in projectiles and rockets. The work also consisted of using an explosive destruction technology and a static detonation chamber to destroy projectiles filled with solidified mustard agent, she said.
The Bechtel-Parsons Blue Grass team designed, built, tested and operated the facility, she said, noting that the DOD agency responsible for safe destruction — Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives — also had a role in the work.
“They’ve exemplified a one team, one mission mentality, from the workforce to the regulators, the stakeholders, the local leaders, community, federal, state and defense leaders. It’s taken all of us to get across the line, and we’ve done it,” she said.
There’s still more work to be done to close the Blue Grass plant safely, she added.
The department will continue to support the chemical demilitarization program mission, she said.