By Gina Vaile/Managing editor
While a war wages nearly half a globe away, a spokesman at the Blue Grass Army Depot says the military installation is operating business as usual. “As far as the security changes from what’s happening in Iraq, nothing has changed from the day before,” said David Easter, public affairs officer for the Depot.
Easter said the Depot remains on high security on a regular basis because of the munitions it houses. Tucked away in 45 earth-covered igloos are 523 tons, roughly 1.7 percent of the nation’s original stockpile of chemical weapons.
According to Easter, there are multiple security measures to protect the munitions housed at the Depot. The stockpile is kept in a secure, restricted area surrounded by two fences topped with barbed wire.
“There are certain areas on the depot that our security people have been given directions that shooting to kill is an option,” Easter said. “That’s not everywhere on the depot, but for security reasons I can’t disclose that information.”
According to GlobalSecurity.org, the Depot’s mission is “to provide munitions, chemical material surveillance and Special Operations support to the Department of Defense.”
The Blue Grass Army Depot houses three types of chemical agents. A blistering agent known as “mustard,” which first arrived at the BGAD in the 1940s and two nerve agents, GB and VX, are also stored in the igloos. While all three agents do severe bodily harm, GB and VX are deadly, according to GlobalSecurity.org.
The chemical weapons have been stored at the BGAD since 1944, while the nerve agents GB and VX arrived in the 1960s. Included in the stockpile are projectiles and rockets containing mustard or blister agent, GB and VX. According to GlobalSecurity.org.
Igloos containing the stockpile are monitored daily by the BGAD. While small leaks occur regularly, the Depot has not experienced a large scale leak or accident.