A U.S. Army facility that has honed technology for disposing of chemical weapons for more than 30 years in Rush Valley is now history.
The Chemical Agent Munitions Disposal System (CAMDS) at Deseret Chemical Depot has been officially designated by the state as ready for closure.
CAMDS, which is part of Deseret Chemical Depot (DCD), has been in the process of final cleanup and closure for several months.
DCD, which is also in the process of final cleanup and closure after disposing of chemical munitions for the past 15 years, received a letter last Thursday from the state Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste.
That letter officially notifies DCD that the state has formally endorsed CAMDS for closure.
A research and development facility, CAMDS was built in 1974 and began operations in September of 1979. Over the course of its use, it destroyed more than 360,000 pounds of chemical substances and more than 40,000 munitions.
Much of the work at CAMDS on the viability of incineration technology for disposing of chemical weapons, as well as other disposal methods like neutralization, has been utilized by other U.S. Army facilities.
After the last load of chemical agent was destroyed at DCD in January 2012, DCD began the dismantling process, which includes tearing down — and sterilizing — CAMDS. It took four years to build CAMDS, but only about two months to dismantle the facility, though some initial tear down preparations date back to 2006.
Alaine Greiser, public information officer for DCD, said since base closure began, the workforce has diminished somewhat. Last March, the workforce for URS, the company contracted with the military for demilitarization, was at 1,100. But last month that number fell to 960.
Meanwhile, the government civilian workforce at DCD has fallen from 220 to 130 since March 2012.
Now that the hardest part — the disposal of chemical weapons — is over, the workforce is tasked with cleaning up the sites to meet environmental regulations, such as what just happened with CAMDS, Greiser said.
Workers are destroying the last of the secondary waste and decommissioning the disposal facility. Keys to DCD are scheduled to be handed over to Tooele Army Depot in July, when it will again become TEAD’s “South Area.”
At its height, DCD had 44 percent of the nation’s chemical weapon stockpile. Currently, all but the stores of chemical agent at Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado and Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky have been completely destroyed, and those in Colorado and Kentucky are in the process of destruction.
At their height, Pueblo Chemical Depot had eight percent of the nation’s total, and Blue Grass Army Depot had two percent. The chemical stockpile is being decommissioned as per the terms of the Chemical Weapons Convention, a 1997 treaty that set a deadline of April 29, 2012 for the obliteration of the nation’s collection of chemical weapons.