2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 16 Oct 2003 12:49:49 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Report urges Army to rush destruction of gelled sarin
Report urges Army to rush destruction of gelled sarin
Mary Orndorff

WASHINGTON - The Army should speed up the destruction of M55 rockets
filled with gelled sarin because it would be safer for the people of
Anniston than storing them, according to a scientific report released

The National Research Council, in a study sponsored by the Army, found
that the chemical weapons incinerator in Alabama could safely destroy
the tricky gel-filled rockets faster than did a similar facility in

"Because there is a small chance that stored sarin- and VX-filled
rockets might self-ignite at any time and release toxic agents and
metals, these rockets need to be destroyed as soon as possible," said
James Mathis, a retired engineer from Exxon Corp. and chair of the
committee that wrote the report.

The findings essentially support plans at the Anniston incinerator to
process gelled rockets as fast as possible without violating the limits
set by state regulators who monitor the incinerator's performance on
safety and emissions.

About 20 percent of the outdated M55 rockets in Anniston's stockpile, or
about 8,706 rockets, are believed to contain sarin nerve agent that is
no longer in liquid form. The gelled substance is tougher to handle and
takes longer to destroy. Trial burns with the gelled rockets are
scheduled for early next year.

The National Research Council, a division of the National Academy of
Sciences, suggests that the gelled rockets can be safely dealt with at a
rate faster than the 1.6 per hour accomplished in Tooele, Utah. But the
panel also cautioned against aspiring to run the rockets through at 34
an hour, fearing the speed could cause the temperature in the furnace to
spike and some of the deadly agent to be released.

During trial burns of non-lethal agents, the Anniston incinerator was
able to destroy 34 gelled rockets per hour, according to spokesman Mike
Abrams. But that rate is not being considered for actual burns, he said.

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