NUCLEAR, BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL WEAPONS
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.
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.
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.