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Army Destroys Last Landmine Containing VX Nerve-Agent Munitions

American Forces Press Service

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md., Dec. 30, 2008 – The U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency destroyed the last landmine in its stockpiles containing VX nerve-agent munitions Dec. 24 at the Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility in Anniston, Ala.

"We have reached a truly remarkable milestone following more than five years of deliberate, but careful, operations,” Timothy K. Garrett, ANCDF site project manager, said. “All nerve-agent munitions -- those containing GB and those containing VX -- have been safely processed."

CMA personnel and contractors have destroyed the VX munitions at six disposal sites: Anniston, Ala.; Umatilla, Ore.; Newport, Ind.; Pine Bluff, Ark.; Tooele, Utah; and Johnston Island, about 800 miles southwest of Hawaii.

"I commend Anniston and all CMA destruction sites on this extraordinary achievement. By destroying the VX agent at each of CMA's destruction sites, you have made the world a much safer place," Conrad Whyne, CMA director, said.

CMA continues to safely and securely store the remaining VX in the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile at the Blue Grass Chemical Activity near Richmond, Ky., officials said. Construction is under way on a neutralization facility there, and the U.S. Army Element Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives is charged with the agent’s destruction.

Destruction of chemical weapons already is complete at Newport, Aberdeen and Johnston Island, officials said. Operations continue at Tooele, Umatilla, Anniston and Pine Bluff, CMA's remaining destruction sites. These sites are destroying or preparing to destroy blister agent and the only remaining nerve agent for CMA's destruction mission -- GA at Tooele, officials said.

VX is the least volatile, but most potent, of all chemical warfare agents, officials said. The agent attacks the nervous system, causing muscles to convulse uncontrollably. Exposure can result in loss of consciousness, convulsions, paralysis and respiratory failure.

The nerve agent first was developed in the early 1950s. The nation's original stockpile of about 4,400 tons was produced at Newport Chemical Depot between 1961 and 1969. Newport's production facility was destroyed in 2006.

The nerve agent never was used in combat by the United States.

"The elimination of this deadly chemical agent from each site's stockpile is a relief to the stockpile communities, and a sign of our commitment to other nations as we move one step closer to a safer world," Whyne said.

(From a U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency news release.)

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