The last stockpiles of a deadly chemical agent in the United States have been safely disposed of, according to Kentucky officials tasked with destroying Cold War-era weapons.

The last M55 rocket containing the VX nerve agent was destroyed at the Blue Grass Chemical Agent plant on Tuesday. Officials at the Kentucky plant began dismantling about 18,000 rockets and emptying the VX agent in July, according to a press release from plant officials.

Candace Coyle, the plant’s project manager, said Wednesday that the entire nationwide stockpile of VX nerve agent “is now completely destroyed.”

VX is considered the deadliest chemical agent produced by the United States, largely in the 1960s. It has a consistency similar to motor oil and even a tiny amount floods the victims body with fluids, producing a drowning sensation before death. In 2017, officials said assassins used Agent VX to kill the brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a Malaysian airport.

The Kentucky Army Depot still has 277 tons of other chemical agents to destroy, having started with more than 520 tons of VX, GB, and agent mustard that had been in storage for decades. Officials said it’s all set to go away next year after it began phasing out its stockpiles of mustard agents in 2019.

“After more than half a century of chemical weapons storage in central Kentucky, the final chapter of the Blue Grass Army Depot will soon begin,” said Col. Stephen Dorris, commanding officer of the depot in central Kentucky, where is the factory.

The Agent Mustard campaign ended in September. The plant also destroyed 4,000 projectiles containing GB nerve agent in the first half of 2020. Another 13,000 155 mm projectiles containing VX agent were destroyed from January to May 2021.

The military planned decades ago to destroy the weapons in Kentucky by burning them, but after concerns from residents and environmental groups, a plan was drawn up to use water and chemicals to neutralize the officers.

Chemical weapons are also being destroyed at an Army facility in Pueblo, Colorado. Stockpiles at the two sites represented the last 10% of an initial stockpile of more than 30,000 tons of chemical weapons in the United States. The military used incineration methods to destroy weapons at other sites.

Photo: The detonation chamber at the Blue Grass chemical agent destruction facility near Richmond, Kentucky. (Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, US Army via AP)

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Topics
Agencies Chemical Kentucky

Interested in Agencies?

Receive automatic alerts for this topic.