Chemical Weapons Gone from Oregon Depot
[Seattle Times] It would be hard to exaggerate the peril that was stacked in the weird concrete bunkers south of the Tri-Cities and across the Columbia River in Eastern Oregon.
Inside the sheds rising from the shrub-steppe desert sat roughly a quarter-million leaking rockets, crumbling mines, decaying bombs and aging artillery shells, many filled with high-octane poisons that could kill with a single drop.
When the Army started burning these weapons in 2004, the potential threat was so great it altered the lives of nearby residents. They bought gas masks, and 19,000 of them installed emergency radios. They endured monthly test blasts from 76 outdoor warning sirens. They sent their children to schools that could be pressurized like airplanes at the press of a button. They stored sheets of plastic precut to seal doors and windows quickly in case of a chemical release.