NBC Weapons: Where Has All The VX Gone

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NUCLEAR, BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL WEAPONS

January 3, 2009: The United States has completed the destruction of the last of its nerve gas weapons stored in the United States. The 66 month effort destroyed 293,000 gallons (over a million liters) of VX and Sarin nerve agent, by incineration. These weapons were stored, for nearly half a century, in underground bunkers in the Anniston Army Depot, 80 kilometers east of Birmingham, Alabama.

Last year, the last of 478,000 M55 115mm nerve gas rockets were destroyed. These 78 inch long, 57 pound, weapons, each carried ten pounds of VX or GB liquefied nerve gas. These rockets were manufactured from the late 1950s, to the early 1960s, and were soon considered obsolete (because of short range and poor construction). It was believed that the propellant would become increasingly liable to spontaneously ignite. Another problem was that the warheads leaked, and required constant monitoring.

Over the last 18 years, about half the U.S. stock of 31,500 tons of chemical weapons (mainly nerve and mustard gas). The destruction is taking place at seven sites. The incineration plant at Anniston will be closed, for about six months, and converted to destroy the mustard gas stored there. Mustard is a more complex chemical, as far as incineration goes, but is less lethal than nerve gas.

 


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