The Umatilla Chemical Depot near Hermiston was constructed over a 10-month period in 1941. Through the decades it has played an important role in the national mission to store and transfer munitions for the U.S. Army.

A free public tour is held every third Thursday of the month. Visitors meet at 9 a.m. in the main parking lot on the south side of the depot (take Exit 177 off I-84). Visitors are driven to tour stops on the depot and are returned to their cars within two hours. Visitors must bring photo identification, such as a driver's license.

In a two-hour tour, visitors are given a brief history of the depot .

Visitors also are shown:

* Models of the chemical agent munitions stored at the depot;

* Protective masks and suits used by the chemical ammunition handlers;

* Vials of simulated chemical agents;

* Mobile air-monitoring equipment;

* Positive pressurization technology and the facility used to respond in the unlikely event of a depot accident; and,

* The Operations Center.

Visitors are taken inside a storage igloo similar to where chemical weapons are stored. The tour also takes visitors to a viewpoint overlooking the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility construction site.

In addition to the regularly scheduled tour, group tours can be scheduled. If interests vary from the standard tour, tour guides can tailor the subject matter and duration to suit visitors' schedules.

The next public tours are scheduled for June 15, July 20, Aug. 17, Sept. 21, Oct. 19, Nov. 16 and Dec. 20.

Call the Umatilla Chemical Disposal Outreach Office at 564-9339 for more information. Or you can send an e-mail at acornett@oregontrail.net

Outreach Office

Opened in March 1996, the Umatilla Chemical Disposal Outreach Office is a place to learn more about chemical weapons and have questions answered. It's also a place to provide comment to Army representatives who are deciding how to dispose of the nation's chemical weapons.

An Outreach Office visitor will see a model of the disposal facility, models of the munitions stored at the Umatilla Chemical Depot, a wall map that shows the location of the chemical stockpile storage sites, vials of simulated chemical agents and a public access Internet station.

Staff members are available to answer questions and assist visitors with the more than 400 sources of information available, including documents, fact sheets, photos and videos. The office also provides shelf space for citizens who wish to express other viewpoints on the disposal program.

Staff members also can set up tours of the depot and the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility construction site or presentations on the project. Students doing research papers should feel free to call the Outreach Office for reference material. The office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and by appointment evenings and weekends.

For more information, contact Allison Cornett at the Outreach Office at 564-9339.

The Outreach Office is located at 245-B E. Main St., Hermiston. The office will move to 190 E. Main St., Hermiston, as of July 1.

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