Friday, September 6, 2013


Our protests about chemical weapons ring a little hollow. My sister, my nephew and his family live in Umatilla, Oregon. Just north of the Umatilla Chemical Weapons Depot. Until a few years ago the facility was home to twelve percent of US stocks of VX, GB and HD. GB has another name. Sarin. Yeah, sis and her family were living next to stockpile of the same gas somebody used in Syria. It seems at the moment that no one is quite sure which side used it.

In the late nineties an incinerator was built on the site partly because a UN treaty mandated the destruction of chemical weapons by about 2007. And there was another reason for building the destruction facility on site. Back in the eighties some genius ordered the gases to be made "war ready." That meant installing the shells on or in rockets. The canisters storing the gas or gases, they're often stored in binary form and aren't deadly until they mix on impact, were doing ok. The rockets however were deteriorating and were too unstable to be shipped somewhere else to be destroyed.

I thought it was bad enough when I moved into my dorm in '68 and discovered that one of the entrances to the campus fallout shelter was in MY basement. Until my high school teaching BIL was showing around Umatilla High School. When we got to the gym he showed us how it had been modified to be sealed and pressurized just in case something went wrong down south. Talk about a heart stopper.

Who dreams up these nightmares? I can't imagine ordering the manufacture of this poison much less dreaming it up in the first place or ordering it to be used. I know we've gone along with the destruction of the actual gases but in a little corner of my mind is that niggling doubt. Is there a warehouse somewhere that houses the binary forms of these little tastes of hell. Technically they aren't Sarin. Yet.

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