oversight

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)

                         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

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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.)




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