. "3 History and Analysis of Mustard Agent and Lewisite Research Programs in the United States." Veterans at Risk: The Health Effects of Mustard Gas and Lewisite. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1993.
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Veterans at Risk: The Health Effects of Mustard Gas and Lewisite
example, it was recently discovered that a dumping site, used to dispose of 55-gallon drums of sulfur mustard in the mid-1940s, now lies near a large business complex in Edison, New Jersey (Gallotto, 1992). This site may be one of many located on what was once the Raritan Arsenal, where reports of former soldiers claim that toxic chemicals were poured into pits, along with the emptied drums and shells, treated with lime, and covered over with soil. Such reports are not only relevant to the issue of toxic waste from chemical weapons production in this century; they also point out locations, not apparent in official CWS histories, where military and possibly civilian personnel were exposed to chemical agents during WWII.
The Department of Defense (DoD) Authorization Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-145) directed and authorized the Secretary of Defense to destroy the United States' aging and obsolete stockpile of lethal unitary chemical munitions and bulk agent by September 1994. In response, DoD established the Chemical Stockpile Disposal Program in 1986, but the target completion date has been postponed to 2004. Unitary munitions contain a lethal chemical agent at the time the munition is loaded; in contrast, binary munitions contain agent precursors that mix and react to form lethal agent after the munition is fired. The unitary stockpile includes the vesicant agents sulfur mustard and Lewisite, as well as organophosphate nerve agents. All but approximately 6 percent of the U.S. stockpile of unitary munitions and bulk agent is currently stored in the continental United States as bombs, cartridges, mines, projectiles, spray tanks, and ton containers. Approximately 60 percent of the unitary stockpile tonnage is stored in bulk as ton containers, spray tanks, or similar large containers. The remainder is stored on Johnston Island, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's stockpile that was moved in 1990 from a military site near Clausen, Germany.
DoD has tested, considered, and discarded a number of proposed disposal methods in favor of high-temperature incineration (Carnes, 1989; Carnes and Watson, 1989; U.S. Department of the Army, 1988). The first step in this approach involves "reverse assembly" of the munition inside an explosive-containment room, resulting in the separation of agent from any explosive materials and munition hardware or containers. These different fractions are sent to separate incinerators, and materials are incinerated by a specially designed system using four two-staged furnaces (a furnace and an afterburner) for each component (e.g, liquid agent, contaminated metal parts). Temperatures reach between 540°C and 1370°C for the furnaces and approximately 1090°C for the afterburners. Stack gases and incinerator ash are treated in advanced pollution-abatement systems intended to ensure safe handling and eventual disposal in a hazardous waste facility (see Carnes, 1989, for details of emission control systems).