Wednesday, September 08, 2004
( 6:21 AM )
Gotcher Gas Mask?
If you were wondering where stockpiles of chemical weapons really are, you can find them right here in Oregon's lovely countryside. Today, the Umatilla Weapons Depot begins incinerating the 10 percent of the US's chemical and biological weapons that are contained there. After years of battles with the local residents, who have shown time and again that the incinerator leaked, the operation is going forward today anyway. Of course, they say they've put in new "filters," so I don't know what all those people downwind are complaining about.
Barring any last-minute hitches, workers will drain the nerve agent from one of those rockets and send the emptied weapon into a 1,050-degree incinerator today, Army spokeswoman Mary Binder said. The drained sarin will be stored until the Army gathers enough to fire up a different incinerator for liquid chemicals, perhaps in a month.
A gradual start could see perhaps five more rockets drained and burned through Friday, said Dennis Murphey, who oversees Umatilla for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
After checking with the systems' manufacturers and workers at other chemical weapons incinerators, Umatilla workers determined that it is normal for the monitors to detect traces of such chemicals in the plant's air, Binder said.
"They're (chemical) levels that people breathe every day," she said. "You just don't measure them in your everyday life. Here, we do."
Don't we all feel better now?