Team In Md. Carries Out Chemical Weapons Disposal Operation

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chemical weapons disposal
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Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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ABERDEEN, Md. (WJZ)–The Syrian chemical weapons the United States threatened to go to war over are no more.

Alex DeMetrick reports a team from Maryland has successfully destroyed them in a first-of-its-kind operation.

Chemical attacks unleashed on his own citizens last year in Syria left the Assad regime with a choice. Turn over its stockpile of deadly chemicals or face air attacks from the United States.

The stockpile was given up, eventually carried by freighter to a Mediterranean Port.

In January, WJZ was allowed into the Edgewood area of the Aberdeen Proving Grounds.

There experts at the Chemical Biological Center’s were putting together the portable machinery to reduce the poisons by “99.9 percent efficiency, and that means it can’t be used for chemical warfare material anywhere,” said Joe Weinand, director of Edgewood Chemical Biological Center.

And it had to be done on this shop at sea. A first-of-its-kind operation.

“Putting it on a ship introduces six degrees of movement: up-down, forward-backward, side-to-side,” said Jeff Harris, project manager.

A team of 64 volunteers from Edgewood boarded the ship with their equipment, while the deadly cargo from Syria was brought aboard for decontamination.

It included World Ware I blister gas., sulfur mustard and sarin nerve giants.

All 600 tons of those chemicals have been successfully treated with technology developed over decades in Maryland.

“We’re literally using water to hydrolyze the materials,” Harris said.

What remains is a caustic liquid similar to Drano, which will be taken to Finland and Germany for final disposal.

“To be able to rid the world of this is very gratifying for all involved,” Harris said.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called the disposal flawless.

An operation that was given 120 days to complete but finished after just 60 days.

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