RICHLAND, Wash. – There’s one less chemical weapons cache in the world today. The U.S. Army has certified to the international panel in The Hague that the Umatilla Chemical Weapons Depot is free of all chemical agents in compliance with international treaties. An end-of-operations celebration is planned for March 15. Correspondent Anna King reports.
The final mustard agent weapon was destroyed last October. Since then, workers have been clearing the depot and its incinerator of all the remaining traces of chemical residue. The depot has laid off about 150 people and more than a hundred more will get pink slips through this spring and summer. Leaving the depot soon is security manager Jerry Lanphear. After 45 years, he says as he drives out the gates for the last time….
Jerry Lanphear: “I’ll miss this place of course. I will be looking more out the windshield than out of the rear view mirror that’s for sure. You know, just moving on, ready to take on the next aspect of my life.”
Chemical weapons arrived at the depot for storage during the early 1960s. The government expects the last cleanup and demolition tasks to take another two to three years before the land is repurposed.
Copyright 2011 Northwest Public Radio
WHAT: Umatilla Depot end-of-operations ceremony
WHEN: 6:00 p.m., March 15
WHERE: Hermiston Conference Center, 415 S. Highway 395 in Hermiston, Ore.