Chemical Weapons Disposal:

Issues Related to DOD's Management

T-NSIAD-95-185: Published: Jul 13, 1995. Publicly Released: Jul 13, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Department of Defense's (DOD) management of the Chemical Stockpile Disposal Program, focusing on: (1) DOD cost, schedule, and performance; (2) emergency preparedness of communities near the stockpile; and (3) alternative disposal technologies. GAO noted that: (1) the Army's cost estimate to destroy the chemical weapons stockpile has increased from $1.7 billion to $11.9 billion, and the planned completion date has been extended from 1994 to 2004; (2) DOD has taken steps to improve its management of the disposal program, such as designating the program as a major acquisition to improve cost and schedule controls and reassessing the stability of chemical weapons; (3) two of nine planned incinerators have been built, but only one incinerator is operational; (4) about $2 billion has been spent on the program, but only 2 percent of the stockpile has been destroyed; (5) the Army plans to issue a revised cost estimate and disposal schedule in December 1995, since added program requirements, public opposition, and technical problems put the program at risk for further cost growth and schedule slippage; (6) although storing the M-55 rocket poses a large safety risk, the Army cannot predict the safe storage life of the rocket; (7) although the Army has spent over $300 million on the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program, communities near storage sites are not prepared to respond to a chemical emergency; and (8) alternatives to the baseline incineration process include neutralization and biodegradation, but this technology will not be ready by 2004.

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