The end of an era is likely to begin this month, and not a day too soon.

All indications are that the weapons of mass destruction stored at the Umatilla Chemical Weapons Depot will be safely and finally destroyed starting this month.

The effort, which has been the subject of nearly every kind of bureaucratic and legal delay, continues to be on track for a mid-August startup.

Last week the project moved closer to its inevitable conclusion when Judge Michael Marcus determined the latest hurdle to incineration raised by GASP - the Hermiston-based group representing those opposed to all things about the plan - would not delay startup.

GASP has done its part as a vocal minority in making sure the Army and its contractor, Washington Demilitarization Company, cut no corners in their pledge to clean up this giant mess.

They've filed suits and injunctions to ravage a Potlach copse and have even had the temerity to suggest they should have a place at the table in designing a permit modification promising whistleblower protection for any workers at the plant.

It's time for GASP to take a deep breath.

They have proven they can wage a legal campaign and they can appeal 'till the cows come home, but write the policies? Have a say?

The plant already has a working approach to employee concerns about safety. The employees have, in fact, used the process to improve the performance.

It is time for the end of the political madness so represented by the chemical weapons at the Umatilla Depot, and it's time to destroy those weapons.

The process of incineration is proven; the application of the process will start excruciatingly slow. The plant will finally test itself under live conditions and, as it proves itself, the pace will pick up. In every event, safety will be first over all other considerations.

This has worked in other places without cataclysmic results, and, thanks to people like GASP, staff at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the military, and Washington Demilitarization who have questioned and studied every step of the way, it is only logical to expect it will work here too.

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