History of the Chemical Weapons Working Group

Chemical Weapons in the United States

During World War II and the Cold War, the U.S. Army created over thirty thousand tons of chemical weapons, filled with lethal nerve and mustard agents. Fortunately these weapons were never used on political ‘enemies.’ However, the weapons pose a serious health and safety threat to communities living near military bases where they are stored. 

One of these bases is the Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond, Kentucky. 

When the Army proposed to incinerate the weapons, local residents, parents and others were outraged and concerned about the impacts of toxic incinerator emissions on our health and the environment.

Formation of the Chemical Weapons Working Group

The Kentucky Environmental Foundation formed the Chemical Weapons Working Group (CWWG) in 1991 as a coalition of residents concerned about building chemical weapons incinerators at the stockpile sites in eight locations in the continental U.S. and one site on an island in the Pacific. Through dedicated grassroots organizing, policy development and advocacy, the CWWG succeeded in passing groundbreaking federal legislation that mandated the research and implementation of safer non-incineration weapons disposal technologies, which were/are being used at four sites, including Kentucky.  Nationally and in Kentucky, the CWWG has excelled in bringing together people from all social and political persuasions and many diverse perspectives for consensus on safe solutions to the U.S. chemical weapons legacy.

Currently, a non-incineration technology is under construction in Kentucky with the oversight from a community-based group called the Chemical Destruction Community Advisory Board, chaired by CWWG Director Craig Williams.   The board has regular meetings that are open to the public.

International Involvement

The Chemical Weapons Working Group advocated for U.S. ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) since its inception, and continues to track U.S. adherence to the treaty.  CWWG Director Craig Williams has been privileged to attend two gatherings of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at its headquarters in The Hague. These meetings draw visitors and activists from all over the world.

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Current Status

CWWG in the News

Disposal Technologies

Community Involvement