Chemical Weapons Disposal

Issues Related to DOD's Management Gao ID: T-NSIAD-95-185 July 13, 1995

Defense Department (DOD) efforts to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile have been plagued by soaring costs and schedule delays. Cost estimate to dispose of this deadly material have risen from $1.7 billion to $11.9 billion, and the planned completion date has slipped from 1994 to 2004. DOD has taken some encouraging steps to improve its management and oversight of the disposal program, but a number of areas are still of concern. To date, only two of nine planned incinerators have been built and only one of the two, at Johnston Atoll, is operational. About $2 billion has been spent on the program, but only two percent of the stockpile has been destroyed. The Army continues to experience added program requirements, public opposition, and technical and programmatic problems. Although the storage of the M55 rocket poses the largest safety risk, the Army lacks information to predict the safe storage life of the rocket. Communities near the storage sites are still not yet fully prepared to respond to a chemical emergency. Finally, the Army is research and technology to dispose of the chemical weapons stockpile, this technology will not be ready in time to meet the current disposal deadline of December 31, 2004.

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