Kentucky leaders celebrate beginning of chemical weapons destruction

RICHMOND, Ky. (WTVQ) – Some of Kentucky’s top brass were in Madison County to kick off a project more than a decade in the making.

Governor Matt Bevin and Senator Mitch McConnell helped cut a ribbon to mark the beginning of the destruction of chemical weapons at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond.

“Our system is at it’s best when citizens and entire communities lead,” McConnell told the crowd.

After more than a decade of preparation, depot staff members are set to begin destroying the weapons in just a few days.

The weapons have been at the depot since the 1940’s.

This is one of the United States’ last stores of some of the deadliest weapons in the world, including sarin, mustard gas, and VX.

Staff members say they’ll use water and other chemicals to destroy the weapons. It’s a delicate, dangerous process.

“It’s been a long haul to ensure that the method used is the safest in order to protect our community, our family and the region, and it took a lot of Kentuckians to get us to this point,” said Craig Williams, Director of the Environmental Foundation.

Williams was one of the first to oppose burning the weapons over safety concerns.

In the years leading up to this, Madison County and its neighbors have had to be ready for potential chemical emergencies.

“We’ve been trying to make the public aware of these chemical weapons, and know what to do if an accident were to occur here,’ said Gary Epperson, the director of Clark County’s Emergency Management.

Engineering company Bechtel will help destroy the weapons.

“These weapons were created for war, and now they will be destroyed for peace,” said Michael Costas with Bechtel.

The Department of Defense says that peaceful destruction has world wide implications.

“The success and the extent of progress that we make here has direct impact on our ability within that international forum, to hold other countries responsible when they try to violate the norm against chemical weapons,” said Dr. Chris Ball with the Department of Defense.

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