At one point in the 60's, the Umatilla Chemical Depot near Boardman housed 12 percent of the nation’s chemical warfare agents. The depot held a massive stockpile of nerve and mustard gas (more than 3,717 tons) and all kinds of chemical agents for use in rockets, bombs, tanks and other projectiles.
Fast forward to 1985. Congress directs the Army to destroy the nation’s entire chemical agent stockpile, including munitions stored in Umatilla. In 1997, the Army builds the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility and installs four incinerators to destroy all chemical agents at the depot.
During this time, EPA found a number of separate problems at the site, not related to the chemical weapons stockpile. This included groundwater contamination in several of the depot’s lagoons, which served as washout areas to clean conventional munitions. EPA placed the site on its National Priorities List, a database that identifies and prioritizes contamination and hazardous waste site across the country. EPA also identified seven other areas in need of environmental cleanup. DEQ would become involved in a multi-year effort to address each of these areas.