WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) praised the Blue Grass Army Depot (BGAD) for destroying the last chemical weapon stockpile in the United States. This landmark achievement is the product of nearly three decades of local, state, and federal collaboration that began in the 1980s.
Senator McConnell has championed the responsible destruction of BGAD’s chemical weapon stockpile for over 30 years in the Senate and successfully pushed the Department of Defense to adopt a safer, more advanced alternative. The Senator was instrumental in the construction of BGAD’s state-of-the-art chemical weapon destruction facility, which commenced destroying over 500 tons of lethal chemical agents in 2019.
When Senator McConnell first entered office, the Army’s plan to destroy BGAD’s chemical weapons raised significant safety concerns from the local community. Shortly after, the Senator introduced legislation in 1986 to halt new shipments of chemical weapons to Kentucky.
In 1996, Senator McConnell introduced a bill creating the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (ACWA) program, an organization tasked with identifying and demonstrating at least two responsible alternatives to the Army’s plan. ACWA’s assessment found multiple methods to dispose of the deadly arsenal which allowed the facility to move forward with a safer option to destroy these weapons and protect families in Madison County.
Utilizing his role as Senate Republican Leader and as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator McConnell secured over $6.56 billion for the ACWA program and over $407 million for the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness program, which supports the safe destruction of dangerous materials at BGAD.
“Chemical weapons are responsible for some of the most horrific episodes of human loss. Though the use of these deadly agents will always be a stain on history, today our Nation has finally fulfilled our promise to rid our arsenal of this evil. The Blue Grass Army Depot in my home state of Kentucky has led U.S. disposal efforts with its state-of-the-art destruction facility. At the federal level, I have secured nearly $7 billion in federal funding to support the responsible destruction of chemical weapon stockpiles in Kentucky and fiercely advocated on behalf of Madison County families to ensure these lethal weapons were safely eliminated from our community on our terms,” said Senator McConnell. “We wouldn’t be here today without the determination of local community leaders, as well as the hard work of the operators, technicians, construction workers, and other support staff who will continue working on the mission in the coming years. Thanks to the collective effort of these individuals and many others, we are one important step closer to a world free of chemical weapons.”
“Today is a historic day for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, but also for the entire Nation. The people of Madison County can finally breathe a sigh of relief no longer in proximity to chemical weapons. Their input throughout the entirety of this project has once again proven the power of grassroots advocacy. From the start, Senator McConnell has been a constant champion for our community at the federal level, and his partnership has been pivotal in ensuring a safe and transparent process,” said State Senator Jared Carpenter.
“This is a great day as our community, Commonwealth, and indeed the world are safer and better off for the end of this project. For decades the people of Madison County have lived with hundreds of tons of chemical weapons within miles of their homes,” said State Representative Deanna Frazier Gordon. “Thanks to Senator McConnell, that is no longer a concern. His incredible commitment to engaging local residents in the process, keeping the community informed, and ensuring this project stayed on schedule has made the end of this chapter in our lives possible.”
“We are grateful to everyone who has worked for years to ensure the safety of our Madison County citizens and the proper disposal of chemical weapons. Our county has benefited tremendously from the leadership of Senator McConnell to get our community to this milestone. While we know the project is not over and there is much work to be done, Madison County is safer today,” said Madison County Judge Executive Reagan Taylor.