Are You Prepared?
What is CSEPP
In 1985, Congress directed the Army to destroy its entire stockpile of chemical weapons in the safest manner possible. Many of these weapons are 50 years old or older and were built to deter other countries from using chemical weapons of their own against the United States. While the risk of an accident or incident involving the stored chemical is very small, the increasing age of the weapons increases the risk.
The Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP) is an outstanding example of partnership among the Department of the Army, FEMA, States, Tribal Nations and local jurisdictions. The common goal among these government agencies is to develop and enhance the emergency preparedness capabilities of the in the unlikely event of a chemical accident at the Blue Grass Army Depot.
10 States, 41 counties, and one Tribal Nation surrounding the eight U.S. Army stockpile sites originally participated in CSEPP. The eight States that hosted installations with chemical stockpiles were: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Oregon, and Utah. Two additional States, Illinois and Washington, also participated in the program because of their borders’ proximity to the stockpiles in Indiana and Oregon, respectively. The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation in Oregon also actively participated in the program. Thirteen (13) counties were in Immediate Response Zones, the areas closest to where the chemical agents are stored and generally within approximately a ten-mile radius. Twenty-five counties were in Protective Action Zones, beginning at the outer edge of the Immediate Response Zones and extending to a distance of between six and 31 miles. The remaining three counties were designated as host counties, which lie outside the Immediate Response Zones and Protective Action Zones. Now only two states, Kentucky and Colorado remain in the program.
In Kentucky, Madison County and Estill County are classified as Immediate Response Zones (IRZ), Clark, Estill, Fayette, Garrard, Jackson, Powell and Rockcastle are classified as Protective Action Zones (PAZ), and Jessamine and Laurel are classified as Host counties.
CSEPP is administered through the States. Funds are distributed to the States under Cooperative Agreements, based upon a negotiated work plan between the States and FEMA Regional Offices. Under the agreements, each State identifies needs, develops proposed projects to meet those needs, requests funds, and disburses those funds at the State level and to local governments. CSEPP focuses on providing the personnel, equipment, and training necessary to establish a response infrastructure that enables emergency managers to quickly alert the public, manage the response, and communicate with the public, the media, and emergency responders. Equally important is public awareness of what to do in the event of an incident.
Since the beginning of the program, CSEPP communities have made significant progress and our communities are included amongst those best prepared in the nation.
The Blue Grass Chemical Activity, which is located on the Blue Grass Army Depot, near Richmond, Kentucky, has the responsibility for the storage, monitoring and eventual destruction of all chemical munitions stored there.
The three types of chemical agents stored at Blue Grass Chemical Activity include a blister agent, known as “mustard”, which began arriving in the 1940’s, and two nerve agents, GB and VX that began arriving in the 1960’s. The “mustard” blister agent is designed to incapacitate personnel while GB and VX, which are nerve agents, are designed to cause death.
All chemical munitions are stored in concrete bunkers covered with several feet of earth and called igloo’s. These “igloos” are in a high security area behind multiple razor wired fences with an around – the – clock armed security force authorized to use deadly force. The three liquid chemical agents are stored in different types of munitions. The agents are primarily contained in 155mm and 8” projectiles as well as M55 115mm rockets. The rockets contain either GB or VX agent and are fully assembled with agent, bursting charges, rocket propellant, rocket motors and igniters.