Umatilla Chemical Depot storage workers began delivering 8-inch diameter VX-filled artillery projectiles to the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility shortly after 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

It marked the official start of a new individual munitions campaign, said Jim Hackett, Army spokesman. Twenty-seven 8-inch VX projectiles or "shells" had been processed by early Wednesday morning, he said.

"Depot workers take a lot of pride in safely storing and transporting munitions to the disposal plant," said Lt. Col. Bob Stein, depot commander. "Since starting agent operations in 2004, we've successfully completed several thousand munitions shipments without an accident or incident and we plan to keep it that way."

Since the start of agent operations at the disposal facility nearly four years ago, workers have delivered about 5,800 enhanced on-site containers loaded with munitions from the depot storage areas to the disposal plant. The containers are designed to resist impacts, punctures, crushing and fire, Hackett said.

"Each campaign brings us closer to keeping our commitment to eliminate the Oregon chemical weapons stockpile and its risk to surrounding communities," said Mike Strong, the Army's site project manager at Umatilla. "It's great to get started on another campaign."

The 8-inch VX projectiles campaign is the 11th individual munitions disposal campaign for the depot and disposal plant. It is expected to take about a month to destroy the projectiles. A total of 13 individual disposal campaigns will be required to completely eliminate the Oregon stockpile, Strong said.

When 8-inch VX projectiles are gone, the only VX munitions remaining will be land mines. The "change over" from projectiles to mines is expected to take about two months, and mine processing is scheduled to be completed by early next year if there are no significant delays.

The plant then will change over to process HD mustard blister agent stored in bulk containers, also known as "ton containers." HD mustard will be the third and final type of agent disposal campaign at Umatilla, and its eventual elimination will mark the end of the Oregon chemical weapons stockpile.

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