Work begins on last chemical weapons stockpile in Kentucky

July 7, 2022 GMT
In this photo provided by the U.S. Army, workers at the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant in Richmond, Ky., begin the destruction of the first rocket from a stockpile of M55 rockets with GB nerve agent on Wednesday, July 6, 2022. The plant began destroying more than 520 tons of deadly and aging chemical weapons in 2019.  (U.S. Army via AP)
In this photo provided by the U.S. Army, workers at the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant in Richmond, Ky., begin the destruction of the first rocket from a stockpile of M55 rockets with GB nerve agent on Wednesday, July 6, 2022. The plant began destroying more than 520 tons of deadly and aging chemical weapons in 2019.  (U.S. Army via AP)
In this photo provided by the U.S. Army, workers at the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant in Richmond, Ky., begin the destruction of the first rocket from a stockpile of M55 rockets with GB nerve agent on Wednesday, July 6, 2022. The plant began destroying more than 520 tons of deadly and aging chemical weapons in 2019.  (U.S. Army via AP)
In this photo provided by the U.S. Army, workers at the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant in Richmond, Ky., begin the destruction of the first rocket from a stockpile of M55 rockets with GB nerve agent on Wednesday, July 6, 2022. The plant began destroying more than 520 tons of deadly and aging chemical weapons in 2019. (U.S. Army via AP)
In this photo provided by the U.S. Army, workers at the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant in Richmond, Ky., begin the destruction of the first rocket from a stockpile of M55 rockets with GB nerve agent on Wednesday, July 6, 2022. The plant began destroying more than 520 tons of deadly and aging chemical weapons in 2019. (U.S. Army via AP)

RICHMOND, Ky. (AP) — Work has begun on eliminating the last chemical weapons stockpile stored at an Army depot in Kentucky.

The Blue Grass Army Depot’s stockpile of decades-old M55 rockets containing GB nerve agent makes up about half of the 523 tons of weapons that were originally stored there. The nerve agent, also known as sarin, is colorless, odorless and highly toxic.

The first of those rockets was destroyed Wednesday at the Blue Grass Chemical-Agent Destruction Pilot Plant, Army officials said in a news release.

The depot’s stocks of VX and mustard agent projectiles have already been neutralized. The pilot plant, built to safely destroy the deadly weapons, began its mission in 2019.

Dr. Doug Hindman, chair of the Kentucky Chemical Demilitarization Citizens’ Advisory Commission, said the plant has begun the work “destroying the last chemical weapons in the U.S. stockpile.”

“That’s an achievement we’ve all worked toward for years,” Hindman said in the release. ”Once they finish, safely, America will be totally free of stored chemical weapons.”

Kentucky’s stockpile along with another in Colorado account for the remaining 10% of the country’s original stockpile of about 30,000 tons of chemical weapons.