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October 30, 2005 5:39 PM   Subscribe

Cleaning up the WMD's 20 years ago the US passed a law to destroy the stockpiles of WMD's it has. There have been many snags and lack of funding. We need to get rid of them before they are used against us and the old ways of disposal just won't work anymore. What can be done?
posted by Balisong (11 comments total)
AARGH, that Lack of Funding linked worked before, but maybe I can substitute this one.
posted by Balisong at 5:43 PM on October 30, 2005

So chemical weapons are bad and we need to get rid of them in a different manner than we previously had been getting rid of them is what I gathered from these loosely connected links. Is it really snags and a lack of funding that is to blame for the fact that they are still hanging around? I thought it was the policy of not adhering to international treaties and if it at all possible, doing the opposite of what we said we'd do when we signed and ratified them (ahem, Chemical Weapons Convention)...
posted by panoptican at 5:54 PM on October 30, 2005

Also, what can be done to stop the spread of the improper use of apostrophe's?

Sorry, other than that minor sticking point this is a great post. I don't know why we make a big deal about other countries having WMDs when we hoard them ourselves. It would be nice to live in a country that led by example.

This article is breathtaking:
The Army now admits in reports never before released that it secretly dumped 64 million pounds of nerve and mustard gas agent into the sea, along with 400,000 chemical-filled bombs, land mines and rockets and more than 500 tons of radioactive waste either tossed overboard or packed into the holds of scuttled vessels.
*Salutes flag*
Geniuses. Brilliant.
posted by mullingitover at 6:01 PM on October 30, 2005

Sorry for the apostrophe abuse, I shall flail myself with a few semicolons for the transgression.
posted by Balisong at 6:06 PM on October 30, 2005

I thought it was the policy of not adhering to international treaties and if it at all possible, doing the opposite of what we said we'd do when we signed and ratified them

Probably not. Reason being, there really isn't much of a motive for keeping a chemical arsenal around when you're a nation like the US. If you want raw destructive power, you've got hydrogen bombs. If you want killing without property destruction, you've got your neutron bombs. You've got your tactical A-bombs for dealing with enemy formations. And since chemical weapons tend to leave behind pretty distinctive weapons, they're no less obvious when they're used than nukes. Unless you're a nation that can't get nukes, there really isn't much of a reason to keep all these chemical weapons around. There isn't really anything that they do that atomic weapons wouldn't do better.
posted by unreason at 6:24 PM on October 30, 2005

What unreason said. Chemical weapons are obsolete. They're damned hard to store safely, let alone trasnport to a battlefield and deploy against the enemy without getting your own troops burned in the process. So there's no brief in the Pentagon for keeping most of the deadly chemical weapons around (although certainly there are claques who favor certainly highly tactical uses and versions). The US figured this out a long time ago -- the only reason we kept them around was "parity" or whatever with the Soviets, and keeping up with survivability research and so on. Really, the Army is glad to be rid of most of these, and would have been much farther along on destruction plans if there hadn't been a knock-down drag-out NIMBY fight over each and every destruction facility.

It's shocking, but sadly not surprising, that we dumped so much of this crap off the coast. Really makes you wonder, sometimes, what people were thinking. I'm guessing, though, that this one bomb they found was a stray that perhaps literally fell off a barge on its way to deeper waters. Even back in the 40s, they knew better than to dump them in the middle of a clam bed. I'd hope.
posted by dhartung at 12:24 AM on October 31, 2005

The scary thing is that they might not have known better than to chuck this stuff into shallow water and call it a day.

I've seen tapes of old nuclear bomb tests from the 50s where some of the "tests" strike the modern viewer as insane. For example, testing to see whether a smoke cloud (as in, from a $1 smoke bomb) would deflect nuclear fallout. They even tried both white and black smoke to see if it would make a difference. Needless to say, it didn't work. Don't overestimate the amount of knowledge we had/have concerning enviornmental impacts of this stuff.

Plus as the article alludes to, the guys driving the disposal boats weren't exactly chemical/nuclear waste experts.
posted by falconred at 2:05 AM on October 31, 2005

Simple solution: throw them at the sun....
(see the Superman movie with Reeves for exact details)
posted by matimer at 5:51 AM on October 31, 2005

Simple solution: throw them at the sun....

Ah, but that means loading them all up into a big bomb that just might blow up on the launchpad.

That could be bad.
posted by Balisong at 5:54 AM on October 31, 2005

As long as it doesn't involve horse.wmv, you can do whatever you want with those nukes.
posted by cavalier at 7:35 AM on October 31, 2005

(nobody made you watch that.)
posted by Balisong at 10:21 AM on October 31, 2005

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