U.S. Takes Apart Dozens of Nerve-Agent Rockets

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Global Security Newswire Staff
May 15, 2014, 10:49 a.m.

Work­ers in Ken­tucky have sep­ar­ated 42 sets of en­gine com­pon­ents from nerve-agent rock­ets left from the Cold War, the Lex­ing­ton Her­ald-Lead­er re­ports.

The de­vel­op­ment — an­nounced on Thursday by the op­er­at­or of the Blue Grass Army De­pot — was part of an ana­lys­is to de­term­ine pos­sible haz­ards such ma­ter­i­als could pose as they are des­troyed.

The find­ings may help the Army de­cide if it will carry out the elim­in­a­tion pro­cess in­side the still-un­fin­ished Blue Grass Chem­ic­al Agent-De­struc­tion Pi­lot Plant. De­pot per­son­nel could al­tern­ately com­plete the pro­ced­ure at an­oth­er on-site loc­a­tion.

The sep­ar­a­tion pro­cess oc­curred “safely and without in­cid­ent,” the Blue Grass Chem­ic­al Activ­ity said in re­leased com­ments. The fi­nal M-55 rock­et sep­ar­a­tion took place on Tues­day, the of­fice noted in its state­ment.

Twenty-three of the sep­ar­ated en­gine parts are slated for de­liv­ery to New Jer­sey, where they would un­der­go as­sess­ment at the U.S. Army Arm­a­ment Re­search, De­vel­op­ment and En­gin­eer­ing Cen­ter at Pic­a­t­inny Ar­sen­al. The Army de­pot in Ken­tucky is ex­pec­ted to re­tain the oth­er 19 com­pon­ents for re­view at a later date.

The nerve-agent war­heads were in­di­vidu­ally pack­aged and placed in hous­ing de­signed to pre­vent any leaked con­tents from es­cap­ing in­to the en­vir­on­ment.

The United States has already elim­in­ated most of its chem­ic­al-weapons stock­pile in com­pli­ance with pro­vi­sions of the Chem­ic­al Weapons Con­ven­tion. It com­pleted sim­il­ar rock­et-sep­ar­a­tion pro­ced­ures as part of de­struc­tion op­er­a­tions at two oth­er sites: the Umatilla Chem­ic­al De­pot in Ore­gon and the Pine Bluff Ar­sen­al in Arkan­sas.

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