Umatilla Chemical Depot Celebrates Milestone - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Umatilla Chemical Depot Celebrates Milestone

HERMISTON, Ore. --  The Umatilla Chemical Depot celebrated its progress but also its safety record Thursday night.

Facility officials are proud that they have destroyed 50% of their chemical weapons but they are even more proud that their 1,200 employees have stayed safe.

At tonight's citizen awareness meeting, officials said that they expect to be done destroying all the sarin gas at the facility by this summer. Depot officials say it is the most dangerous of the three gases because it travels through the air so easily. With such dangerous chemicals, Depot officials say safety is paramount.

The Chemical Depot's Bruce Henrickson says, "The munitions themselves are aging and leaking. They require very careful handling. Their highly lethal."

The Depot has one of the lowest accident rates among chemical disposal plants at less than one injury per 100 people per year. Henrickson says he hopes this record continues as the Umatilla facility starts disposing of the its other two chemicals: VX and Mustard Gas.

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