Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Edgewood Arsenal 2006


This is just part of the article due to copyright laws I am posting just part of it under fair use of the news

Located on a neck of land in the northern Chesapeake Bay between the Gunpowder and Bush rivers, Edgewood's forests and fields brood over a minefield, a dump where workers once burned toxic compounds, former weapons test ranges and a factory-like structure built to dispose of unexploded chemical ordnance found on site. Once known as Edgewood Arsenal, today it is part of neighboring Aberdeen Proving Ground, the Army's oldest active weapons development center.

Edgewood has several abandoned brick buildings too contaminated to use, and too expensive to tear down. They sprout weeds and small trees. Labs that study super-toxic compounds bristle with pipes and ventilation ducts, and are surrounded by barbed wire and crash barriers. Medical evacuation helicopters stand ready on the base's central runway at all times.

For decades, Edgewood was one of this nation's most secret research labs. Even after the United States ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention outlawing chemical arms in 1997, the base has kept a low profile.

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, the National Guard set up machine-gun emplacements and tightened security. The Army accelerated plans to destroy 1,600 tons of mustard agent stored outdoors in steel containers, out of fear of an air strike that might create a lung-searing vapor cloud 30 miles from Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

Despite concerns about security, ECBC officials agreed last summer to give The Sun access to some of their scientists and programs. Officials there opened the doors of some labs, workshops and offices that had been closed to the outside world.

The result was a glimpse of a formerly secret world, inhabited by what one scientist called "the 100-pound brains" behind America's chemical defenses.

Until about a decade ago, the ECBC and other Edgewood labs seemed like quaint relics of yesterday's wars. Standard chemical weapons are more of an annoyance than a threat to well-equipped and well-trained troops. They are useless against insurgents and guerrillas, America's most likely foes.

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