Pollution: chemical weapons destroyed in US

By Dave Armstrong - 04 Feb 2015 10:55:21 GMT
Pollution: chemical weapons destroyed in US

Even kangaroos search for an unpolluted, beautiful environment for us all to enjoy, but we won’t achieve our dream if pollution continues to destroy land and water. Perhaps destroying chemical weapons will lower the risks, but we have to monitor what happens to the waste.Beach image; Credit: © Shutterstock

Libya, Russia and the US have chemical weapons in common. Add most major powers (about 25), many smaller nations such as Iraq and, of course, Syria, and there is a chemical mix whose sources need locating. Luckily the US and others are finally fulfilling their obligations to the CWC (Chemical Weapons Convention) of 1992 and the Geneva Protocol of 1925. The destruction of chemical weapons has been subsidised in several countries such as Albania and Russia (73% destroyed, with the aim to complete disposal in 2020)) with the US said to have destroyed 90%. The case of Libya always comes up, but destruction there is supposed to end by next year.

The process never ends with figures on paper, however. The Star Tribune (Minneapolis) is one of several newspapers to give some background of Pueblo in its article. Those US states where stores exist, such as the giant complex at Pueblo in Colorado may need to pay heed to how the disposal takes place. Pollution by mercury is a common problem, associated with various used batteries, but mercury from some weapon treatment methods may well enter the environment. The methods of disposal in Pueblo are bifold.

One slow method consist of basically exploding a military shell with mustard gas inside a sealed container. Chemical treatment of the gas then neutralises its anti-personnel effect. The disposal of these used chemicals is an issue, however. The 2nd method is automated, which is a blessing. The $4.5billion plant reacts the mustard gas with water and then uses bacterial digestion to make sure the chemicals are hazardous, but disposable. The method can process 60 shells an hour in good conditions.

It took 55 years for these shells to be destroyed in some cases but when we come to nerve gas, there are different propositions. The Blue Grass depot in Kentucky has this dangerous job, due to begin in 2016/17 and end by 2023. The mass of these weapons is only 523 tons, but the security, protection, preparation, treatment and then safe disposal of the chemical results will be tortuous. Pollution worldwide is a wide issue, but when we come to chemical weapons, there is an air of apprehension. If we can’t honestly and quickly rid ourselves of simple carbon emissions, how might any dangerous chemicals affect our future, without even thinking of the stockpiles of biological weapons that have no international treaty to control them.

My conclusion is that we are surrounded by ancient marine dumping, nuclear failures and modern atmospheric dangers. The sooner we carefully dispose of some of these polluting substances, the quicker the real job of preserving the planet for life will begin. Until that moment, I’ll hold my breath, otherwise I may stop breathing.

Wikipedia can be trusted on some chemical weapons information, while for other pollution issues, our older encyclopaedia article always points to the many ways in which we soil our planet!