01 September 2009

EPA Approves Army's Closure of Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System

/PRNewswire/ -- U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency (CMA) officials announced today that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has accepted the Army's closure of its former Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System (JACADS). In a letter dated Aug. 18, 2009, EPA Region IX official John Beach wrote that "EPA finds that the Army has fulfilled the requirements of its JACADS Permit," and that the EPA, "accepts the Army's closure of the facility as a clean closure."

CMA Director Conrad F. Whyne said, "The official closing of JACADS has been a thorough and meticulous process. As a program, we have benefited from the lessons learned from working with the EPA." Mr. Whyne noted, "This is our first RCRA permitted lethal agent incineration facility to close and I offer my heartiest congratulations and a 'job well done' to the men and women of the JACADS team and our EPA partners. They have made the chemical weapons of Johnston Atoll history; they have made the world a safer place."

JACADS, the Army's first full-scale chemical weapons destruction facility, safely completed its mission of weapons destruction in 2000, facility demolition in 2003 and the last Army employees left Johnston Atoll by the end of 2003. This mission was accomplished while protecting the workers and the remote atoll's delicate environment.

Located on an atoll 800 miles southwest of Hawaii, JACADS represented a major milestone in CMA's history. During a 14-year period, more than four million pounds of nerve agents, GB and VX, as well as blister agent HD, were safely destroyed and the disposal facility was dismantled. Chemical agents contained in 412,798 munitions, including projectiles, rockets, bombs, and ton containers, were eliminated, reducing the overall U.S. stockpile by six percent.

The Army worked with the EPA to close the facility according to environmental standards. Closure activities involved cleaning and removing all hazardous wastes, equipment and systems used for disposal operations. Analyses were performed in all related areas to ensure that the Army met the EPA's stringent criteria.

CMA has completed destruction of the chemical weapons at Newport, Ind., Aberdeen, Md. and Johnston Island. Final chemical agent destruction operations are under way at CMA's four remaining destruction sites: Anniston, Ala., Pine Bluff, Ark., Umatilla, Ore., and Tooele, Utah. CMA's destruction sites should complete operations in time to meet the 2012 Chemical Weapons Convention treaty deadline. CMA continues to safely store chemical agent munitions near Richmond, Ky., and at Pueblo, Colo. For more information about CMA, visit http://www.cma.army.mil/ .

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