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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 256-96
May 03, 1996

INTERIM ASSESSMENT OF CHEMICAL DEMILITARIZATION PROGRAM

The Department of Defense released today an interim report on the status of the Chemical Stockpile Disposal Program indicating that the CDSP is now into its operational phase. The report assesses the current status of the chemical stockpile demilitarization program, including the results of the Army's analysis of the physical and chemical integrity of the stockpile and implications for the chemical demilitarization program, and providing recommendations for revisions to the program that have been included in the budget request of the Department of Defense for fiscal year 1997.

The U.S. stockpile consists of some 30,000 tons of chemical weapons -- about 3.3 million individual items, located at eight sites in the U.S. and one site on Johnston Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. Currently the Johnston Atoll incineration facility is in full operation and has already destroyed more than two million pounds of chemical weapons. A second site, at Tooele Army Depot, Utah, where more than 40 percent of the chemical weapons stockpile is maintained, is set to begin incineration operations this summer. Construction of similar facilities at Anniston, Ala., Umatilla Ore., and Pine Bluff, Ark. are scheduled to begin later this year.

The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences has determined that incineration is a safe and effective method of destroying chemical weapons. The NRC has also concluded that indefinite storage of the chemical weapons stockpile presents greater risk then getting on with the destruction effort, using the baseline incineration technology developed by the Army.

In parallel with implementation of its baseline technology, the Army is aggressively assessing two neutralization-based technologies which will provide alternatives to the incineration process. Three additional technologies have been identified from recommendations from U.S. industry. All five technologies are now being evaluated by the NRC. A decision on whether to proceed with a pilot scale program with one or more of these technologies is expected to be made by the Department of Defense later this year.

Cost of the CDSP, over the 16 years of its anticipated life cycle, is estimated to be $12.4 billion. Major factors contributing to the growth of this cost have been changing environmental permit requirements, legislative requirements, and modifications resulting from program experiences. The Army continues to pursue several cost reduction initiatives which will not jeopardize the health and safety of the work force or the public and which will protect the environment. The results of this ongoing cost reduction study will be provided to Congress with the Defense Department budget request for fiscal year 1998.

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