CWWG 2014 Updates
Kentucky Chemical Weapons Expert Wary Of Syria
Sept. 25, 2014–Evidence of the recent use of chlorine gas against people in Syria raises questions about whether its regime is fully complying with an international chemical weapons agreement, according to a Kentucky expert helping to monitor the situation.
While chlorine is not prohibited under the chemical weapons treaty Syria signed, its use as a weapon is barred.
“I am very concerned that they still maintain some of that material and it has been used on civilian populations,” said Craig Williams, director of the Kentucky Environmental Foundation’s Chemical Weapons Project, a citizens’ watchdog group based in Berea, Ky.
Williams has served as an informal adviser to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a United Nations agency charged with enforcing the chemical weapons treaty that has been signed by 190 nations.
He will be making his third trip to The Hague, Netherlands, in December for what he expects will be further talks about Syria, as well as the ongoing effort at the Blue Grass Army Depot near Richmond, Ky., to destroy aging chemical weapons stored there.
Secretary of State John Kerry last weekend warned the Syrian government that international monitors determined “with a high degree of confidence that chlorine was used as a weapon ‘systematically and repeatedly’ in attacks on three villages in northern Syria earlier this year.”
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Construction Work To Begin Next Month On Blue Grass Army Depot Site To Destroy Mustard Rounds
Sept. 16, 2014–RICHMOND — Initial construction will begin next month on the Blue Grass Army Depot site where mustard-agent rounds will be exploded inside a steel detonation chamber.
The site is next to the pilot plant that will eventually rid Madison County of nerve-agent munitions.
The Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection gave temporary authorization in August that allows site preparation and road improvements to begin, said Craig Williams, executive director of the Chemical Weapons Working Group, a Berea-based organization.
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Economic Impact Study Released
Sept. 4, 2014–CWWG Director Craig Williams and the Blue Grass Area Development District took an important step toward strategic economic development planning in central Kentucky. At a press conference with distinguished guests including Congressman Andy Barr, Senator McConnell field representative Regina Stivers, and Madison County Judge Executive Kent Clark, Williams and the Blue Grass ADD presented a report, The Kentucky Chemical Weapons Disposal Project Layoff Aversion Study. The report is phase one of a three-part strategic planning process for economic development and workforce retention once the chemical weapons demilitarization activities are completed. Others presenting at the press conference were Daryl Smith, Chair of the Blue Grass Workforce Investment Board; David Duttlinger, Director og the Blue Grass Area Development District; and, David Benge, President and CEO, Cumberland Valley National Bank, Madison County.
Even though the demilitarization project is expected to continue through 2023, it’s not too early to be thinking about how to avoid a “boom and bust” scenario. The CWWG’s participation and leadership in this endeavor exemplifies the common ground between local labor, economic development, worker safety, education, environment and health perspectives.
COMMENTS SUBMITTED ON PROPOSED DISPOSAL TECHNOLOGY. Click here to view the latest public comments on the proposed installation of an Explosive Destruction Technology facility at the Blue Grass Army Depot. The EDT would be used to destroy 15,000 mustard agent rounds that would otherwise pose higher health and safety threats Depot workers.
Planning For Reuse Of Depot Facilities Wins Award
July 18, 2014–The Bluegrass Area Development District’s contribution to a study on reuse of chemical weapons destruction facilities at the Blue Grass Army Depot will be recognized next month by the National Association of Development Organizations.
Bluegrass ADD will receive NADO’s Innovation Award for 2014 at the organization’s annual conference in Denver.
The “Kentucky Chemical Weapons Disposal Project Layoff Aversion Study” was prepared for Madison County’s Chemical Destruction Community Advisory Board. The Richmond and Berea chambers of commerce and others were partners in the effort.
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has made destruction of the depot’s chemical weapons a priority, mentioned the award Friday during an address to the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. He commended the CDCAB and its local partners for their foresight.
Unlike communities that suffered economic reversals after massive efforts to destroy the United States’ chemical weapons stockpile were completed in their locations, Madison County hopes to capitalize on useable facilities and retain as many good-paying jobs after weapons stored here are destroyed, said Craig Williams, CDCAB co-chair.
The destruction project timeline foresees completion in 2023.
“We do not intend to find ourselves in a position at the end of this project without a viable plan for using the available infrastructure in the future,” Williams said. “It is also important to create an opportunity to retain as many of the skilled workers associated with the effort here to add to the economic viability of the region.”
The Kentucky Chemical Weapons Disposal Layoff Aversion Study will serve as the basis for the Bluegrass Workforce Investment Board and its partners to develop a strategic sustainability plan for the weapons destruction facility, according to a Bluegrass ADD news release.
The depot’s weapons destruction plant represents a Defense Department investment in excess of $5.4 billion and creation of more than 2,000 direct or first-tier jobs throughout the project.
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Community Advisory Board Initiative to Study Weapons Disposal Facilities Reuse and Workforce Retention Recognized as “Innovative.”
July 18, 2014–The National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) will present the Bluegrass Area Development District (ADD) with a 2014 Innovation Award at its annual conference in Denver, Colorado, in August.
The award will recognize the ADD’s “Kentucky Chemical Weapons Disposal Project Layoff Aversion Study.”
The Madison County based Chemical Destruction Community Advisory Board (CDCAB) teamed with the ADD and others to initiate the study to plan for the future use of the facilities after the weapons are gone and to focus on keeping as many of the highly trained workers as possible here in Central Kentucky.
CDCAB Co-chair Craig Williams said, “We do not intend to find ourselves in a position at the end of this project without a viable plan for using the available infrastructure in the future. It is also important to create an opportunity to retain as many of the skilled workers associated with the effort here to add to the economic viability of the region.”
The Kentucky Chemical Weapons Disposal Layoff Aversion Study serves as the basis for the Bluegrass Workforce Investment Board and its partners to develop a strategic sustainability plan for the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant. The BGCAPP facility represents a Defense Department investment in excess of $5.4 billion and creates over 2,000 direct or first tier jobs over the course of the project.
The large federal investment was necessary to comply with the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention agreement that called for the safe destruction of over 523 tons of chemical weapons, which have been stockpiled in Madison County at the Blue Grass Army Depot since 1944. The Bluegrass ADD was recognized by NADO for innovation in looking into and planning strategically for the reuse of the facilities and valuable human capital that will be available as the destruction of the chemical weapons comes to a close in 2023.
CDCAB member and Co-chair of the Economic Study along with Williams, David Benge said, “We believe the ADD, in partnership with our Board and others did a tremendous job producing the first phase of this three phase study. This national recognition is richly deserved, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with the ADD as we move on to phases II and III. We believe in the end our joint efforts will pay dividends for the region in jobs and general economic vitality.”