Many Madison County residents have grown up in fear of the nerve and blister agents stored at the Bluegrass Army Depot.
Tuesday, for the first time ever, the media was allowed to join prominent lawmakers on a visit to the construction site where more than 500 tons of chemical weapons will eventually be destroyed.
The 53 acre site won't be finished until 2016 at the current rate of funding. Senator Mitch McConnell and Congressman Ben Chandler, who have led the bipartisan fight to make sure the project is fully funded, got a briefing on the 3 billion dollar project Tuesday and then toured the construction site.
Congressman Chandler told the assembled media, "We haven't seen a lot of vertical work yet, but if you get information on what's happening under ground, you will find an enormous amount of work has been done on this project, and the thing I like about that is it makes it that much more difficult to go backwards."
Right now the weapons destruction isn't scheduled to be completed until 2021, but by treaty, America is obligated to have all the chemical weapons disposed of by 2017.
Senator McConnell says, "I know there are people who are saying that deadline can't be met, but that is the law."
No matter how long it takes to complete this project, McConnell says it can help Kentucky's economy. "This is going to be a source of significant employment. At the peak, we could have up to 600 people working on this, and we believe the substantial majority of those workers will be Kentuckians."
And ethically, political rivals McConnell and Chandler say we all need to work together to right a wrong. McConnell calls the manufacture and storage of these chemical weapons "one of history's biggest mistakes", and Chandler adds, "We must work to clean up this mistake because this is one issue that has an immediate impact on the people that we represent, and there is a very real danger at the Bluegrass Army Depot as long as those weapons exist."
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