Army Announces It Will Test Chemical Weapons Stored In Richmond

Reported by: Aaron Adelson
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Updated: 12/11/2012 6:15 pm

In 1997 the U.S. signed a treaty banning the use of chemical weapons, but thousands of these weapons are still sitting in Richmond.  Planned for future destruction, the Army will test some of the rockets to make sure they are still safe to store. 

The Blue Grass Army Depot stores 69,00- M55 rockets with chemical nerve agents.  These are very dangerous weapons.

"It causes you to seize if you're exposed to these agents, and it can cause death," said Lt. Col. Christopher Grice, the Blue Grass Chemical Activity Commander.

The Blue Grass Army Depot held a meeting Tuesday to inform the public of a plan to move some of the rockets for testing.  The last time the rockets were checked was in the 80's, so the army want to confirm they are still stable. 

The operation is to take 44 rockets and separate the warhead with the chemical agent from the rocket motor, which contains the propellant.  25 rockets will get shipped to New Jersey for testing, 19 rocket motors will stay in Richmond for testing, and all 44 chemical warheads will stay contained in Richmond.

"There will be no agent moved until the BGCAPP, or Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant's ready to begin neutralization of the chemical agent," said Jeff Brubaker, Site Manager of BGCAPP.

Brubaker says the Army plans to test the rocket motors in February, 2014.

Craig Williams co-chairs a citizens advisory board.  He says people in Madison County should no be too concerned about the testing.

"You're dealing with chemical weapons, so there is always risk, but it's a safety measure.  It's a precautionary measure.  It's not being done out of any urgency, or any information that would lead us to believe there is a higher risk now than there was one year ago," said Williams. 

During the meeting, Williams announced the Depot secured federal funding for 2013 to continue building the destruction plant.  The Army hopes to begin destroying the chemical weapons at the Blue Grass Army Depot in 2020. 
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