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Archive for Saturday, August 9, 2003

Army starts destroying chemical weapons

August 9, 2003

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— Most people paid no attention Saturday when the Army fired up its first chemical weapons incinerator near a residential area to destroy two rockets loaded with enough sarin nerve agent to wipe out a city.

Workers wearing protective gear loaded the 6 1/2-foot-long rocket onto a conveyor belt and sent it into a sealed room, where it was drained of 1.2 gallons of the deadly chemical and chopped into eight pieces.

Those pieces were fed into an 1,100-degree furnace, producing slag that will be trucked to a hazardous waste landfill in western Alabama. The sarin was directed to a holding tank, to be held until there is enough to burn in a large batch, probably in late October.

"The operation was flawless," Army project manager Tim Garrett said.

One protester showed up at the gate. Rufus Kinney, of nearby Jacksonville, said the Army should not have started before everyone had safety equipment.

"They'll blow up west Anniston one night when we least expect it," Abrams said.

A judge gave final clearance Friday for the $1 billion project, capping years of preparation and legal challenges.

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