June 16, 2006

U.S. Senate accepts Wyden resolution calling forcomprehensive schedule to destroy chemical weapons

Resolution also calls for annual reports to Congress, adequate funding forsafe and speedy elimination of the chemical weapons stockpile

Washington, D.C. A resolution cosponsored by U.S. Senator Ron Wyden urging the Secretary of Defense to prepare a comprehensive schedule for safely destroying the United States chemical weapons stockpiles and calling for annual reports to Congress on the progress of that effort has been included in the Department of Defense authorization bill currently being debated on the floor of the U.S. Senate. The resolution, accepted unanimously into the Department of Defense authorization bill last night, also includes new language calling on the Secretary to make every effort to ensure adequate funding to complete the elimination of the United States chemical weapons stockpile in the shortest time possible, consistent with the requirement to protect public health, safety, and the environment.This resolution sends a clear message that public safety and the speedy elimination of the chemical weapons stockpile are priorities for the Congress, Wyden said. Weve had some positive news recently about the destruction of the last of the sarin gas bombs, but the people living in communities around the Umatilla Depot deserve better than continually changing deadlines for the final elimination of the chemical weapons stockpile.The bipartisan sense of the Senate resolution which was accepted into the Department of Defense authorization bill last night was initially introduced in May by U.S. Senator Ken Salazar (D-Colorado) and cosponsored by Wyden and U.S. Senators Wayne Allard (R-Colorado), Evan Bayh (D-Indiana), Jim Bunning (R-Kentucky) and Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky).Recognizing that safety must be the primary concern at the Depot, Wyden has long been an advocate of safety at the Umatilla Chemical Depot and in the surrounding communities. In May 2005, Wyden also joined with Allard and Salazar in passing legislation to prevent the transportation of chemical weapons materials across state borders and into Oregon. In 2003, he worked with U.S. Senator Gordon Smith (R-Oregon) and U.S. Representative Greg Walden (R-Oregon) to secure $4.1 million for a variety of safety projects in and around the Umatilla Depot. And in 1999, he released a study from the Government Accountability Office that found that an emergency preparedness program at the facility lacked sufficient management; Wyden then worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Army representatives to ensure the maximum protection for citizens living and working near the facility.