HERMISTON - Workers at the Umatilla Chemical Depot planned to incinerate four rockets today after officials this morning lifted a safety stand-down that has been in place for five days, according to Rick Kelley, spokesperson for the Washington Demilitarization Company.
Washington Demilitarization is the contractor operating the disposal facility for chemical weapons stored at the depot.
The pause in operations took place because last week two workers, without the proper protection gear, accidentally entered a room contaminated with low levels of sarin, a deadly chemical agent.
They were not injured. But in response to the incident, all workers entering potentially contaminated areas will be monitored more strictly, Kelley said.
"They are going to be videotaped and they will be in constant communication" with the control room operators, he said.
A team of workers will also serve as an additional oversight of the operations, he said.
The incident was "a realization," Kelley said. "We had to learn how the plant acted and how the plant would react."
The plant is the incineration facility at the depot, which stores more than 7.4 million pounds of chemical warfare. The Army began incinerating the stockpile earlier this month. So far 11 M55 rockets filled with sarin have been destroyed.
Another four are expected to be processed today, Kelley said.