DOCUMENT RISUME 03399 - [A25S3733] (Restricted/- . Stockpile of Lethal Chemical Munitions ant. Agents--Better Management Needed. LCD-77-205; B-166842. September 14, 1977. Report to the Congress; by Elmer B. Staats, Comptroller General. Issue Area: Facilities and Material Manageme:t.2 Supply and Maintenance Operations Reporting Sys+t-s (703)i Military Preparedness Plans: Military Forces Readineas (805). Contact: Logistics and Communications Div. Budget Function: National Defense: Department of Defense - Military (eacept procurement & contracts) (05t). Organizaticn Concerned: Department of Defense; Department of the Army. Congressional Relevance: House Committee on Armed Services; Senate Ccmmittee on Armed Services; Congress. The United States has a large stockpile of lethal chemical munitions and agents to deter another country from using chemical warfare and to retaliate if deterrence fails. The stockpile consists of various munitions and bulk containers filled with nerve agents and mustard gas. They are stored in eight continental United States and two overseas locations managed by the Army. Visits to five of the storage sites showed that improvements were needed in inspection and maintenance, storage and handling, safety and security, and demilitarization and disposal of the stockpile. Findings/Conclusions= Department of Defense officials have testified in congressional hearings that the stockpile is deteriorating and that much of it is unserviceable. The true condition of the stockpile is unknown. Recommendations: To more accurately reflect the stockpile's condition, the Army should: revise the classification and reporting criteria to clearly distinguish between functional and nonfunctional defects; require random sampling ts-hniques and store material so it will be most accessible and Facilitate this sampling; stop classifying entire production lots as unserviceable because of a few defects when reporting on the stockpiles condition; and complete the special testing program for determining the lethality of the cherical filler. In addition, the Army should define overall stockpile requirements; stop disposing of usable stocks until stockpile requirements have been defined; and formulate short-term and long-term guidelines for demilitarizing and disposing of the stockpile. (Author/SC) This isan unlassified digest funished in Heu of a report containing casified security information. COMPTROLLER GENERAL'S STOCKPILE OF LETHAL CHEMICAL REPORT TO THE CONGRESS MUNITIONS AND AGENTS-- BETTER MANAGEMENT NEEDED Department of Defense D I GE SEP 14 977 The United States has a large stockpile of lethal chemical munitions and agents to deter another country from using chemical warfare and to retaliate if deterrence fails. The stockpile consists of various munitions and bulk containers filled with nerve &jents and mustard gas. The munitions and are. cost about $200 million. They are stored in eight continer.tal U.S. and two overseas loca- tions. The Department of the Army manages the stockpiles. GAO visited five storage sites and found that improvements were needed .n inspection and maintenance, storage and handling, safety and security, and demilitarization (changing the rk:nitions so they cannot be used militarily) d.4disposal of the stockpile. Department of Defense officials have testi- ftied in congressional hearings that the stockpile is deteriorating and that much of it is unserviceable. They said that the stockpile was inadequate in quantity and quality; consequently, they requested funds to prepare to produce a new chemical munition known as a binary, (Binaries consist of two relatively harmless chemical components that do not become lethal until mixed.) The true condition of the stockpile is un- known. Its serviceability may have been greatly understated. For example, many of the unserviceable classifications are a result of minor nonfunctional defects, such as con- tainer rust, which do not affect usability. Also, inspection sampler, are neither random nor representative, block storage hampers access during inspecti.n, entire production lots are classified unserviceable for a few defects, and chemical aqent testing recently has been limited. (See ch. 2.) i LCD-77-205 Without knowing the true condition of the stockpile, Defense and the Congress cannot validly assess the offensive chemical war- fare capability. To more accurately reflect the stockpile's condition, the Army should: -- Revise the classification and reporting criteria to clearly distinguish between functional and nonfunctional detects. -- Require random sampling techniques and store material so it will be most accessible and facilitate this sampling. -- Stop classifying entire productior, lots as unserviceable because of a few defects when repotrting on the stockpile's condition. -- Complete as soon as possible the special testing program Ior determining the lethai- ity of the chemical filler. (See ch. 2.) Little has been done to maintain the stockpile in a serviceable condition or to restore the unserviceable Aortions. Using anticipated ap- proval of the binary program as a reason for not maintaining the stockpile is inconsistent with sound management. Lack of maintenance could seriously compromise U.S. retaliatory capabilities. (See ch. 3.) If the stockpile's condition is as poor as Defense officials say, they should do every- thing possible to complete maintenance quickly. If, on the other hand, unservice- ability is overstated, the Congress should be told so; perhaps only limited maintenance will be required. The Army should restore the ptrt of the stockpile of lethal chemical mmnitions and agents that is necessary and thereafter continue to maintain the stockpile in a usable condition. (See ch. 3.) GAO did only limited work on the safety and security of the chemical stockpile because of Army efforts to identify and correct djfi- ciencies in these areas. Additionally, physical security standards for chemical munitions are being upgraded to equal those ii required for nuclear munitions. The Army studies and actions underway or planned to revise standards, upgrade security, and reduce safety incidents demonstrate an awareness of the need for good controls over safe', and security. (See ch. 4.) Thb Army has demilitarized and disposed of !arge quantities of usable lethal chemical agents and munitions, yet at the same time, it has said that the lethal chemical stock- pile is inadequate. Additionally, the Army has prepared a long-range plan for eventually disposing of the entire existing stockpile of lethal chemical munitions and agents. The Army has spent over $150 million to demili- tarize and dispose of some munitions and agents, and if the remaining stockpile is disposed of, it may spend $640 millior Lo $870 million more. (See ch. 5.) The Army should determine its overall needs before demilitarizing and disposing of addi- tional usable stocks and committing hundreds of millions of dollars to disposing of the entire stockpile. The Army may be premature in basiag its long-range plans on the premise that the entire chemical stockpile will be disposed of. (Sea ch. 5.) The Army should: ->Define overall stockpile requirements. -- Stop disposing of usable stocks until stock- pile requirements have been defined. -- Formulate short- and long-term guidelines for demilitarizing and disposing of the stockpile. (See dh. 5.) In commenting on the report, the Department of Defense agreed generally with the findings but not with some of the conclusions and rec- ommendations. (See app. I.) Its disagreement related primarily to GAO's suggestions for more accurately describing the condition of the stockpile. Defense feels iii that existing criteria are adequate. GAO continues to believe that improvements are needed. (See ch. 2.) Defense agreed with other recommended ac- tions, such as restoring and maintaining the Stockpile in a usable condition, but indicated that limited staffing aod funding would prevent quick implementation of the recommendations. The Congress may not agree with the relatively low priority Defense gives to the stockpile's maintenance. GAO recommends that Defense and the Congress establish a joint position on the readiness level at which the chemical stock- pile should be maintained. (See ch. 3.) iv
Stockpile of Lethal Chemical Munitions and Agents--Better Management Needed
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1977-09-14.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)