HERMISTON, Ore. – The Umatilla Chemical Depot in northeast Oregon is a week away from incinerating the last of its mustard agent. Workers there celebrated the last shipment of the deadly weapons Thursday during a brief ceremony. But as Anna King reports, the mood at the depot is a bit wistful.
In the damp-cool of morning, a crowd gathers around the special truck and shipping container. This truck was about to pick up the last ton container of mustard agent in the Northwest. Workers signed it with black sharpie markers and snapped pics of each other near it. Most here say they are happy to finish the job. But there weren’t too many smiles during the celebration. Dennis Cooper is driving this final truck to the incinerator.
Dennis Cooper: “We’ve grown close, doing the dangerous job that we do that we’ve kind of become a family here, everybody. It’s going to be tough watching everyone go.”
Cooper and about 1,000 other workers will soon have to find new work. The 70-year-old northeast Oregon site once stored nearly 4-thousand tons of deadly chemical agents in underground bunkers.
(This was first reported for the Northwest News Network.)
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