United States Army Chemical Materials Agency

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The United States Army Chemical Materials Agency (CMA) is a major sub-command of the United States Army Materiel Command (AMC) and a reporting element of the United States Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology. Its role is to enhance national security by securely storing and ultimately eliminating U.S. chemical warfare materiel, while protecting the work force, the public and the environment to the maximum extent.

CMA leads the world in chemical weapons destruction with a demonstrated history of safely storing, recovering, assessing and destroying U.S. chemical weapons and related materials. CMA manages destruction of all U.S. chemical weapons stockpiles except for the two that fall under the Department of Defense Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives neutralization program. Through its Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP), CMA works with local, state and federal emergency preparedness and response agencies at chemical weapon stockpile locations.

The Army operates its disposal activities under congressional direction. Federal agencies and the independent National Academy of Sciences' National Research Council, together with equivalent agencies at the state and local level, also are involved in regulation and oversight of aspects of the destruction program with the exception of fiscal management.

History[edit]

The Army combined elements from the former United States Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command and the former Program Manager for Chemical Demilitarization to consolidate the Army's chemical agent and munitions storage and demilitarization functions under a single organization. CMA managed the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile at nine installations across the U.S. and had responsibility for chemical weapons disposal at seven of them. They were closed out in the following order:

Organization[edit]

USChemicalWeaponsStockpiles082808.jpg

CMA headquarters is based at the Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. CMA site teams are located at the individual stockpile locations where storage and destruction takes place. Only Pueblo, Colorado and Blue Grass, Kentucky still have weapons stockpiles which are managed by CMA although agent destruction will be handled by Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives. Closeout procedures are still occurring at some other locations.

Destruction[edit]

CMA is responsible for two distinct chemical weapons destruction projects.

The Project Manager Chemical Stockpile Elimination [1] manages the safe treatment and disposal of chemical weapons using incineration and neutralization technologies.

Incineration was selected as the Army’s chemical weapons disposal technology in 1985 based on rigorous tests and comparisons of various technologies. Anniston, Alabama, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Umatilla, Oregon, and Tooele, Utah, use incineration for chemical weapons destruction. The first incineration facility was built on Johnston Atoll in the Pacific Ocean and safely completed destruction operations in November 2000. The facility was dismantled and the atoll was returned to its natural state and serves as a wildlife refuge.

Neutralization was first selected as an alternative to incineration for bulk agent storage sites. Depending on the type of agent to be destroyed, neutralization destroys the chemical agent by mixing it with hot water or hot water and sodium hydroxide. The industrial wastewater produced by the process, known as hydrolysate, is sent to a permitted commercial hazardous waste storage, treatment and disposal facility for treatment and disposal. This process was used safely in Edgewood, Maryland, to eliminate its entire stockpile of mustard agent and in Newport, Indiana, to eliminate its entire stockpile of VX nerve agent. Both the mustard agent stockpile in Edgewood and the VX nerve agent stockpile in Newport were stored in large steel containers without explosives or other weapon components. Neutralization is the selected method for the Department of Defense’s Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives facilities in Pueblo, Colorado, and Richmond, Kentucky.

The Non-Stockpile Chemical Materiel Project [2] (NSCMP) was founded in 1992 to provide centralized management and direction to the Department of Defense for the destruction of declared non-stockpile chemical materiel in a safe, environmentally sound and cost-effective manner. The project’s responsibilities include assessment and treatment of recovered chemical warfare materiel declared prior to entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), an international treaty signed by the United States. NSCMP’s non-intrusive assessment systems identify the chemical agent fill of recovered items and the presence or absence of explosive components, allowing for proper handling and treatment. The items can be treated in an on-site system that contains any blast, agent and vapor. NSCMP is best known for its history of responding to chemical weapons recovered at military installations, former defense sites and communities. NSCMP’s highly specialized equipment is employed in a manner that protects workers, citizens and the environment.

In December 2006, CMA successfully completed demolition of the nation’s former chemical warfare production facilities. In November 2007, it successfully completed destruction of the binary chemical weapon inventory. In January 2012, all chemical weapons had been destroyed at the 7 sites CMA had responsibility for, with 89.75% of the U.S.'s 1997 stockpile eliminated.[1]

Storage[edit]

CMA is responsible for the safe storage of the nation’s entire chemical weapons stockpile before its ultimate destruction. CMA manages a National Inventory Control Point and National Maintenance Point to ensure the stockpile is maintained safely and securely during its remaining storage life.

CMA partners with the Department of Homeland Security through CSEPP to ensure effective emergency preparedness of the communities surrounding the stockpile storage sites. CSEPP provides funding for chemical accident response equipment and warning systems. CSEPP also oversees yearly community-wide emergency preparedness exercises at all of the stockpile sites and works with communities to conduct public education activities to enable residents to respond appropriately in the unlikely event of a chemical stockpile incident.

International Cooperation[edit]

CMA is meeting its commitment as outlined in the 1997 CWC, which more than 180 nations have signed as their pledge to rid the world of this class of weapons. CMA also shares lessons learned through its reporting to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons which is charged with implementing the CWC. Finally, CMA participates in the annual international Chemical Weapons Destruction Conference in which experts from CWC member nations share technology and lessons learned.

References[edit]

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