Army shows it knows how to get things done

The EPA recently announced that one of the Army's chemical weapons disposal plants had been properly cleaned and closed


There is never a dearth of things to write about when you are looking at situations in which the government is involved. Usually, it is a lament about bureaucratic bungling.

Once in awhile, however, there are success stories that go almost unnoticed. On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency gave a clean bill of health to the Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System facility. The island is about 890 miles southwest of Honolulu.

Over the course of 15 years, the Army built the disposal system and eliminated 400,000 chemical weapons collected from Okinawa, Japan, and other U.S. military bases in the Pacific and West Germany. This amounted to 4 million pounds of toxic chemical weapons.

The EPA, which had monitored the entire process then spent nearly five years going over the island with a fine-tooth comb before putting its stamp of approval on the project says it "assures protection from impact of JACADS for not only human health, but also from the ecology and environment."

So in less than 20 years, the Army built a disposal plant, eliminated the dangerous chemical weapons, tore down the plant, cleaned the island and received the EPA approval.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

In fact, a similar situation is taking place not far from here at the Umatilla Chemical Depot. Once again, the Army is clearing out concrete igloos filled with chemical weapons. It began the safe destruction of the weapons in 2004 and is expecting to finish the job, including tearing down the facility by 2013.

Maybe we should consider having the Army take over cleaning up Hanford, which has seemingly been stuck in neutral for decades.


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