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Colorado Arsenal Destroys Last Sarin Bomble

Colorado Arsenal Destroys Last Sarin Bomblet

Commerce City, Colorado -- (ANS) August 3, 2001 -- The Rocky Mountain Arsenal confirmed the safe and complete destruction of the last of four M-139 Sarin bomblets identified by unexploded ordnance experts on the installation June 15.

A team of Army experts used the state-of-the-art Explosive Destruction System to destroy the device. Strict safety procedures and a comprehensive air filtration and air monitoring system were used, said officials, to ensure no emissions were released during the destruction process.

Air monitoring data and other sampling from the destruction of the bomblet confirmed that all Sarin was contained and neutralized inside the EDS, indicating a successful and fully protective destruction of the bomblets.

"I'm extremely proud of everyone who worked so hard to ensure the safe and complete destruction of these remaining four bomblets," said Charles Scharmann, program manager for the Army at Rocky Mountain Arsenal. "This was a massive effort by everyone involved and we rose to the challenge and, once again, set the standard for safety. The EDS crew, the members of the Technical Escort Unit and those who set up and maintained the facilities at the scrap yard all deserve our deepest gratitude for their exceptional efforts."

The EDS was designed by the Army to destroy recovered chemical warfare munitions such as these bomblets, said officials. Senior Army representatives and health officials from the State of Colorado and the Environmental Protection Agency approved the EDS plan after an extensive evaluation of available options.

Before the destruction of the bomblets, Army experts spent weeks testing the equipment and securing added layers of protection. The Army built a Large Area Maintenance Shelter over the scrap pile last winter -- an area the length of a football field and half as wide. The LAMS was equipped with a specially designed air filtration system to provide containment and treatment of air inside. Another containment structure housed the EDS and its air-monitoring system.

Technicians investigating an arsenal scrap pile where six M-139 Sarin bomblets were discovered last fall identified and secured four similar-looking devices June 15. The munitions experts, whose task it was to clear material from the pile and find any remaining items, used special equipment and wore protective clothing during the operation to protect against accidental releases.

A section-by-section review of the arsenal's 27-square-miles is currently underway to re-confirm that no munitions are in areas not previously designated as potentially containing unexploded ordnance. Section 36, where all 10 of the Sarin bomblets were found, has always been designated as an area with unexploded ordnance potential.

Markings on the destroyed bomblets indicated they were from a research and development, pre-production lot. They were not part of the Army's wartime stockpile.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal was built in 1942 to produce and store chemical weapons as a deterrent during World War II. It produced Sarin from 1953 to 1957 and filled munitions with the chemical nerve agent until the late 1960s.

(Editor's note: Information for this article was compiled from a Rock Mountain Arsenal press release.)

 

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).

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