KEF is also working with a diverse array of experts and economic development agencies to prevent a downturn in the Central Kentucky economy when the disposal project ends – leaving a significant number of highly trained employees in the region. Read more at: https://www.kyenvironmentalfoundation.org/chemical-weapons/economic-stability-post-demilitarization/
Progress continues to be made at the Blue Grass Army Depot in destroying the nation’s last chemical weapons storage site. To date almost 65 tons of chemical warfare agents have been destroyed safely. Efforts will continue with strong engagement of the local community led by KEF’s Director being a member of the Governor’s Commission and Co-chair of the Citizens Advisory Board. https://www.kyenvironmentalfoundation.org/chemical-weapons/
An effort that began nearly 35 years ago has finally come to fruition as the destruction of the last stockpile of chemical weapons in the United States is set to begin. Craig Williams, Director of Kentucky Environmental Foundation, along with many others, fought to make sure this process was safe for the community around them. We are proud to see the results of so much hard work.
The Beginning of the End
by Craig Williams
In 1984 the Army announced their plans to incinerate the 500+ tons of chemical warfare agents contained in 101,000 weapons stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond, Kentucky. On May 28th, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held to mark the start of operations at the neutralization facility at the Depot to finally begin disposal of these weapons of mass destruction.
In the 35 years it took to get to that point, the citizens in Central Kentucky fought an elongated battle to change the Pentagon’s approach of the open-ended combustion technology to a more contained, manageable, protective and safer method of destroying these weapons. A true David vs Goliath tale that ended the same way as that story. The communities prevailed – but it was challenging to say the least. The good news is that operations have begun, and within a few years the weapons will be relegated to the history books. This will not only relieve the immediate community to the risks associated with storing these weapons of war, but will also bring the U.S. into compliance with the International Treaty requiring global destruction.
The Kentucky Environmental Foundation (KEF) and the grassroots groups across the country and around the world who formed the Chemical Weapons Working Group under KEF’s banner were relentless in their pursuit of methods that provided maximum protection to the workers, the communities and the environment while pursuing this noble objective. Now, we are at the final stages of our and our Nation’s effort to eliminate these weapons.
As Madison County and the two cities move toward closing the pilot plant at the Blue Grass Army Depot, there is a heightened concern about what to do at the end of the day with all the workers, infrastructure and future of the site after demilitarization is no longer in 2023.
“I just wanted to point out the significant impact economically that the transition from the chemical weapons operation will have on the community, both from BGAD standpoint of employees and the taxpayers, and so on, that are going to be affected by our community once those weapons are gone,” Craig Williams, co-chair of the Kentucky Chemical Demilitarization Citizens’ Advisory Commission and Chemical Destruction Community Advisory Board (CDCAB), said.
June 2, 2019
Bill Bryant interviews Craig Williams about the neutralization of deadly nerve agents and chemical weapons stored at the Bluegrass Army Depot in Madison County.