Umatilla Depot: More Staff Reduction As Military Site Nears Final Cleanup

Feb 27, 2014

The Umatilla Chemical Depot is nearing final cleanup. It letting go of 60 more workers Thursday. The northeast Oregon military site is where tons of deadly chemical weapons were stored for decades. 

Workers at the Umatilla Chemical Depot are focused now on environmental sampling to make sure the site of the chemical incinerator is now clean. The incinerator was used to destroy tons of chemical weapons at the northeast Oregon site.
Credit Hal McCune, URS

The Umatilla Chemical Depot is now home to a pit of dirt and gravel. That’s where the massive incineration plant used to stand. The big machine destroyed chemical weapons from World War II. Some were stored here since the late 1960s.

This latest layoff leaves just 100 workers, down from more than 800 just a few years ago. Hal McCune is the spokesman for URS, the federal contractor cleaning up the site. He says the work now consists of environmental sampling to find any trace chemicals.

“So if you look across where the plant used to be you see lots of stakes with little red and green flags on them. It looks like a miniature golf course with lots of holes or something. But we are doing a lot of sampling to make sure we are using the area clean and ready for future use,” McCune says. 

McCune says by October there will be just a couple dozen workers left to handle the final paperwork.

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