People of Northwest Public Radio
Northwest Regional News
Wed December 14, 2011
Umatilla Depot Closure Plans Might Soon Be Back In the Hands Of Locals
A congressional rescue looks like it will put plans to repurpose the Umatilla Chemical Depot back on track. All the chemical weapons at the 20,000 acre Army post in northeast Oregon have been destroyed.
Neighbors to the base have been planning for the Umatilla Chemical Depot’s closure for 20 years under a formal Army process. But that plan was set aside by the Pentagon when the depot missed a deadline.
To get control back into the hands of locals, Northwest Congressional members have added language to a must-pass defense budget bill.
That pleases Carl Scheeler. He’s the Wildlife Program Manager with the Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation.
“It’s a shame that it took this much of the legislators’ attention to delay a mindless bureaucratic threat," Scheeler says. "But we’re very thankful that they were successful and we look forward to working with the Army to advancing the reuse plan in the future.”
The community-based plan calls for parts of the depot to be used by the Oregon National Guard for training. Other parts would be redeveloped for private industry. Also a large tract of land is to be set aside for wildlife.