Stockpile of Lethal Chemical Munitions and Agents--Better Management Needed

LCD-77-205: Published: Sep 14, 1977. Publicly Released: Dec 3, 1982.

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The United States has a large stockpile of lethal chemical munitions and agents to deter another country from using chemical warfare and to retaliate if deterrence fails. The stockpile consists of various munitions and bulk containers filled with nerve agents and mustard gas. They are stored in eight continental United States and two overseas locations managed by the Army. Visits to five of the storage sites showed that improvements were needed in inspection and maintenance, storage and handling, safety and security, and demilitarization and disposal of the stockpile.

Department of Defense officials have testified in congressional hearings that the stockpile is deteriorating and that much of it is unserviceable. The true condition of the stockpile is unknown.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: To more accurately reflect the stockpile's condition, the Army should: revise the classification and reporting criteria to clearly distinguish between functional and nonfunctional defects; require random sampling techniques and store material so it will be most accessible and facilitate this sampling; stop classifying entire production lots as unserviceable because of a few defects when reporting on the stockpiles condition; and complete the special testing program for determining the lethality of the chemical filler. In addition, the Army should define overall stockpile requirements; stop disposing of usable stocks until stockpile requirements have been defined; and formulate short-term and long-term guidelines for demilitarizing and disposing of the stockpile.

    Agency Affected:


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